What are the most addictive foods, according to science?

Pizza slices
Pizza is considered one of the most “addictive” foods in the world. Credit: Pixabay.

Have you ever wondered why certain foods affect our taste buds so irresistibly? What’s it about that slice of chocolate cake or crunchy potato chip that keeps us coming back for more?

While everyone has their own favorite food, this is not what “food addiction” refers to. In fact, food addiction is quite a hot topic among scientists, as you will see.

However, there are some foods that have earned a reputation for their undeniable grip on our senses. One study from the University of Michigan actually did the research and ranked the most addictive foods, but also the least addictive foods.

Most addictive food. Who can resist chocolate and pizza?

Researchers interviewed hundreds of people based on the Yale Food Addiction Scale. The Yale Food Addiction Scale (YFAS) is a widely recognized tool used to assess the presence and severity of food-related addictive-like behaviors.

Gerhardt, developed by Dr. Ashley N. It consists of more than twenty questions aimed at assessing the severity of addictive eating behaviour.

For example, the researchers asked the participants to count the number of times they agreed with statements such as, “I eat so much that I feel physically sick” or “I spend a lot of time feeling sluggish or exhausted from overeating.”

The researchers conducted two separate studies. In the first study, the authors interviewed 120 undergraduate students recruited from campus publications or through the University of Michigan’s introductory psychology course pool. Students received either monetary compensation or tuition credit for their time.

The second study was conducted online and included approximately 400 participants who were recruited using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk (MTurk) worker pool.

Credit: Pixabay.

According to the first study, chocolate is the most addictive food. More than one in four people have an addictive relationship with chocolate. Ice cream, french fries, and pizza completed the menu, which wasn’t surprising at all.

But there were also some surprises: Breakfast cereal was more addictive than soda or fried chicken. Water was considered more of a problem than cucumbers or beans.

rank food repetition processed?
1 chocolate 27.60 s
2 Ice cream 27.02 s
3 French fries 26.94 s
4 Pizza 26.73 s
5 biscuit 26.72 s
6 Chips 25.38 s
7 cake 24.84 s
8 Popcorn (with butter) 23.39 s
9 Cheese Burger 21.26 s
10 Muffin 20.81 s
11 Breakfast Cereal 20.61 s
12 gummy candy 20.58 s
13 Fried chicken 20.18 s
14 soda (non-diet) 20.07 s
15 Rolls (plain) 20.01 s
16 cheese 19.36 n
17 pretzels 19.20 s
18 bacon 18.05 n
19 Plain crackers 16.88 s
20 Nuts 16.43 n
21 A piece of meat 16.16 n
22 granola bar 14.39 s
23 egg 13.93 n
24 Chicken breast 12.61 n
25 Strawberry 12.42 n
26 apple 10.21 n
27 Corn (without butter or salt) 9.92 n
28 Salmon 9.44 n
29 banana 9.34 n
30 carrots (plain) 9.08 n
31 Brown rice (plain, without sauce) 8.79 n
32 water 6.91 n
33 option (without undo) 6.83 n
34 Broccoli 6.48 n
35 beans (without sauce) 6.47 n
Most addictive foods were ranked in the first University of Michigan study.

“As hypothesized, processed foods (with added fats and/or refined carbohydrates) appear to be more associated with behavioral indicators of addictive-like eating,” the study wrote.

For the second study, the higher order was reversed. The most addictive food was pizza, with chocolate settling for second place. Next come chips, cookies and ice cream. Breakfast cereals have dropped dramatically, and it’s the least addictive option.

rank food classification means processed?
1 Pizza 4.01 s
2 chocolate 3.73 s
2 Chips 3.73 s
4 biscuit 3.71 s
5 Ice cream 3.68 s
6 French fries 3.60 s
7 Cheese Burger 3.51 s
8 soda (non-diet) 3.29 s
9 cake 3.26 s
10 cheese 3.22 n
11 bacon 3.03 n
12 Fried chicken 2.97 s
13 Rolls (plain) 2.73 s
14 Popcorn (with butter) 2.64 s
15 Breakfast Cereal 2.59 s
16 gummy candy 2.57 s
17 A piece of meat 2.54 n
18 Muffin 2.50 s
19 Nuts 2.47 n
20 egg 2.18 n
21 Chicken breast 2.16 n
22 pretzels 2.13 s
23 Plain crackers 2.07 s
24 water 1.94 n
25 granola bar 1.93 s
26 Strawberry 1.88 n
27 Corn (without butter or salt) 1.87 n
28 Salmon 1.84 n
29 banana 1.77 n
30 Broccoli 1.74 n
30 Brown rice (plain, without sauce) 1.74 n
32 apple 1.66 n
33 beans (without sauce) 1.63 n
34 carrot 1.60 n
35 option (without undo) 1.53 n
Most addictive foods from the second University of Michigan study.

In summary, the current study found that highly processed foods, with added amounts of fat and/or refined carbohydrates (such as sugar and white flour), were most likely associated with behavioral indicators of addictive-like eating. In addition, foods with a high glycemic index (GL) was specifically associated with addiction-like eating problems for individuals with elevated symptoms of food addiction.”

The study concluded, “Individuals who endorse symptoms of addictive-like eating behavior may be more likely to have hyperglycemic hyperglycemia, which is consistent with the importance of dose and rate of absorption in the addictive potential of drug abuse.” .

Is food addiction a real thing?

A man holding an ice cream
Credit: Pixabay.

Food addiction is controversial among the scientific community. At first glance, the idea of ​​food addiction seems absurd because we need the calories and other nutrients found in food in order to survive. However, the concept of food addiction is not as crazy as it might seem.

Research suggests that some people are more inclined than others to seek out delicacies—meaning foods high in fat and sugar that humans naturally find delicious—even when that behavior leads to negative consequences.

Addiction is traditionally associated with substances such as drugs or alcohol. Addiction is characterized by compulsive behavior, loss of control, and negative consequences when you are unable to reach the subject of the addiction (ie, withdrawal symptoms). It involves the brain’s reward system and neurotransmitters, particularly dopamine, that play a pivotal role in promoting pleasurable experiences.

There is no consensus on the definition of “food addiction” among scholars. the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5)the so-called “psychiatric bible” that lists all mental disorders, does not mention food addiction as a condition.

But although food addiction is not yet formally recognized, the Yale Food Addiction Scale is based on the diagnostic criteria for substance use disorders outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5, which are adapted to the context of food.

Some scientists have gone so far as to claim that sugar is as addictive as hard drugs like cocaine and opium.

Cardiovascular research scientist James J.D. Nicolantonio and cardiologist James H. O’Keefe, both of St. Luke’s Central American Heart Institute in Kansas, write in a review published in the journal British Journal of Sports Medicine.

The research these scientists cite is based on studies in mice. These studies found that rodents preferred sugar over cocaine, as well as evidence of sugar withdrawal.

However, these kinds of conclusions are deeply flawed and just plain bad science. Most animals prefer sweet foods to cocaine, and the rodents’ anxious behavior after consuming sugar is by no means a clear indication of addiction-related withdrawal.

Other studies have found similarities between the effects of cocaine and sugar on the brain. In fact, both food and drugs like cocaine act on almost the same reward system in the brain. However, pharmacologically, the two are not the same, nor are their effects. Drugs of misuse hijacker the reward system and disrupt normal controls.

Turning food cravings into a habit is not the same as cocaine or heroin addiction. I don’t think there was a person in history who robbed a convenience store to get their hands on sugar. Any sane person understands that.

But putting these exaggerated claims aside, there is actually evidence to suggest that sugar and processed foods have some addictive properties. Some very tasty foods light up the pleasure center in the brain and trigger a dopamine rush.

In individuals who are more susceptible to addiction, these chemicals can overwhelm other brain signals that communicate feelings of fullness or satisfaction, leading to a cycle of overeating.

Over time, these individuals may develop a tolerance to addictive foods, requiring larger amounts to experience the same level of pleasure. Although the negative consequences of overeating and wanting to quit smoking are recognized, their efforts are ineffective. In such cases, people often use words associated with addiction, such as cravings, withdrawal, and loss of control, to describe their relationship with food.

Oftentimes, addictive eating behaviors are sometimes used as a way to deal with stress and emotions. While more research is necessary, it is clear that many individuals struggle with addictive-like eating patterns, which can negatively affect their health, self-esteem, and overall quality of life.

And although food addiction is not as pronounced as hard drug abuse, it can also lead to death.

According to data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, more than two out of five American adults are obese, and nearly one in five children is obese. While it may not directly cause death, obesity greatly increases the likelihood of developing various life-threatening diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer, and liver disease.

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