Are you a self-confessed “chocoholic?” When you pick up a bag of chips do you struggle to limit yourself to “just one?”
If you answered “yes,” then you are certainly not alone. A recent study conducted at the University of Michigan has finally confirmed that yes, it is indeed possible to become addicted to certain types of foods, with the obvious culprits being processed foods and those that are high in sugar or fat.
The report maintains that while occasional indulgence is perfectly acceptable, reports of frequent “benders” and withdrawal symptoms after being cut-off are signs conclusive of addiction. Indeed, most of the symptoms associated with drug addiction are the same as those used to diagnose food addiction. This includes the desperate need to obtain the item of addiction while accepting negative consequences along the way, as well as the anxiety and agitation observed during a withdrawal.
A team of researchers asked 120 undergraduate students at the University of Michigan, along with 40 other adults, about 35 different types of foods (from fruits and veggies to burgers and fries) and whether or not they felt that they could control themselves as they ate each one.
Processed foods topping the list were: pizza, chocolate, chips, cookies, ice cream, French fries, cake, and pop. Healthy options, such as strawberries and carrots, were ranked near the bottom of the list.
Foods with a high glycemic load were discovered to be the most problematic, as they contain large amounts of sugar and are known to cause spikes in blood sugar levels. These qualities alone make these foods harder to stop eating.
Erica Schulte, a graduate student of psychology at the University of Michigan and lead author of the study, insists that manufacturers are likely designing processed foods in such a way as to make them more “rewarding.” The more rewarding the product, the more addictive it becomes. The more addictive the product is, the more likely it is to be sought after and bought by consumers.
So, who’s feeling hungry now?