Sugar addiction: the state of the science
After having studied whether sugar acts as an addictive agent, eliciting neurobiological changes similar to those seen in drug addiction, Margaret L. Westwater, Paul C. Fletcher, Hisham Ziauddeen concludes in a recent published study in the Euoropean Journal of Nutrition 2016;
”Given the lack of evidence supporting it, we argue
against a premature incorporation of sugar addiction into the
scientific literature and public policy recommendations”.
The notion that obesity based on overconsumption reflects an underlying ‘food addiction’ is widespread in today´s media and among diet prophets. However, as stated above, the present state of the art do not find this to be the case. The authors mentioned above reviewed the literature on food and sugar addiction and considered the evidence suggesting the addictiveness
of highly processed foods, particularly those with high sugar content. They examined the addictive potential of sugar by contrasting evidence from the animal and human neuroscience literature on drug and sugar addiction and found little evidence to support sugar addiction in humans.
Interestingly, their findings from the animal literature suggest that addiction-like behaviours, such as bingeing, occur only in the context of intermittent access to sugar. These behaviours likely arise from intermittent access to sweet tasting or highly
palatable foods, not the neurochemical effects of sugar.
Ref: Eur J Nutr (2016) 55 (Suppl 2):S55–S69
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