Highly processed foods: they would be as addictive as tobacco

Highly processed foods they would be as addictive as tobacco

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    According to a recent study, industrial cakes, fries and ice cream have a high addictive potential, just like tobacco.

    Some substances such as tobacco, drugs or sugar ink are known to be addictive. On the other hand, until now, no one suspected the cookies, ice cream and other comfort foods in our kitchens of making us addicted. And yet: according to a vast investigation carried out by the University of Michigan and Virginia Tech University, these would indeed be responsible for uncontrollable urges.

    Abnormally high doses of sugar and fat

    As part of this study, the researchers used the criteria used for tobacco in an American report by the Surgeon General (1988).

    That is, the ability of highly processed foods to trigger compulsive eating, induce psychoactive (i.e. mood-altering) effects, reinforce behavior (one cringes even when full), and lead to strong, often irresistible cravings.

    Based on these criteria, the results indicate that highly processed foods are easily addictive. Individuals fond of fries, burgers, nuggets or frozen meals thus find it difficult to reduce their consumption and/or stop consuming them, even in the face of potentially fatal diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.

    These unhealthy foods also cause changes in the brain.

    Like industrial tobacco products, highly processed foods are complex substances that are psychoactive, highly reinforcing, highly sought after, and compulsively consumed.“, underline the researchers.

    NO to diets, YES to WW!

    Chocolate, ice cream and fries top the list

    Also according to the survey, the foods most likely to be consumed addictively are all those “that provide both refined carbohydrates and added fats (i.e. chocolate, ice cream, fries, and pizza)“, followed by those containing “refined carbohydrates without high levels of fat (i.e. breakfast cereals, gummies, and sodas)“.

    These findings are very “worrying” according to the researchers, because highly processed foods particularly target young children (attractive packaging, playful advertisements).

    Diseases (obesity, cancer, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, etc.) and deaths that could nevertheless be avoided “up to those related to cigarettes“.

    It’s time to stop thinking of highly processed foods as foods, and instead as highly refined substances that can be addictive“, concludes Alexandra Di Feliceantonio, assistant professor at the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute of Virginia Tech.