It's easy to claim we're "addicted" to foods like the donuts from down the street or our beloved Thai takeout. But while the concept of food addiction is controversial among researchers, there is growing evidence that highly-processed, fatty, sugary foods like pizza, chocolate, chips and cookies as uniquelyproblematic foods in people's lives.
In the latest study published on the subject, Dr. Nicole Avena of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai found that behaviors and attitudes surrounding some types of food closely followed addiction patterns. She hopes her work might one day contribute to the next generation of obesity and eatingdisorder treatment.
Notice anything? The foods that caused people the most mental distress and physical discomfort are also foods that are highly-processed or are high in added fats and sugars. They're also more likely to have the highest levels of glycemic load, which is a measurement of how a food will raise a person's blood sugar level after eating it.
Food addiction isn't an officially recognized addiction; the closest thing to it in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) is binge eating disorder. But Avena, who has been researching food addiction for over 15 years, says that hers is the first clinical study to assess the connection between how people eat certain foods and the properties of that food —whether it be added fat, sugar or its highly-processed manufacture.