You’ve probably eaten too much candy, or perhaps had one-too-many slices of pizza at a party. It’s less likely that you’ve ever eaten a whole bag of carrots, or made yourself sick from too many apples.
A new study is confirming what many people already know – that sugary, processed foods are much more likely to cause problematic eating than healthier options. Researchers are now considering that these foods may be addictive, in the same way drugs or alcohol can be.
“Several studies really do suggest that highly-palatable, highly-processed foods can produce behaviors and changes in the brain that one would use to diagnose an addiction, like drugs and alcohol,” Dr. Nicole Avena of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai told The Huffington Post.
Pizza is the food that people are most likely to overeat to the point of discomfort, followed by chocolate, chips, cookies and ice cream. Cucumbers, carrots, beans, apples and plain brown rice were the least likely to be over consumed, the study found.
Although there is no official medical recognition of food addiction, Avena said that studies like this one could provide new insight on how to successfully treat obesity and binge eating.
“This could help change the way we approach obesity treatment,” said Avena. “It may not be a simple matter of 'cutting back' on certain foods, but rather, adopting methods used to curtail smoking, drinking and drug use.
“If someone feels they are addicted to food, there really is no diagnosis a medical doctor could give to that person,” she said. “This study is helping advance the literature so that we can help people who have addictive-like eating disorders.”