A new study has revealed the least and most addictive foods for humans. The research was conducted by scientists from the University of Michigan and it was published in the Journal PLOS One.
It has been debated for years whether or not food addiction exists. While there is still no definite conclusion, many psychologists believe that addiction to food is real and people who are addicted to certain foods can go through withdrawal-like symptoms that are similar to ones experienced by alcoholics or drug addicts in withdrawal.
The new study was conducted by a researcher from the University of Michigan and one from the New York Obesity Research Center, the Department of Medicine and sought to find which foods and food attributes are capable of actually triggering an addictive response. The scientists felt the need to clarify that the broad term of food doesn’t refer just to foods in their natural state, such as a banana or a potato, but also to those processed foods with added fat and/or sugar or other additives, such as chips and ice cream.
The scientists gathered data from 500 participants about which foods gave them the most problems, in terms of the Yale Food Addiction Scale (YGAS). The scale is a questionnaire that has 25 points and was created by Ashley Gearhardt, a researcher from Yale who wanted to identify which people are more likely to be dependent of certain types of food and the symptoms of addiction experienced.
The researchers found that the most addictive foods are usually heavily processed. The number one most addictive food is ice-cream, followed by chips, chocolate, cookies and pizza. The least-addictive food was found to be cucumber, closely followed by carrots, apples, brown rice and beans.
The most addictive foods aren’t just heavily processed foods, they are also very high in fat and glycemic load, which is a measurement of how a particular food can raise a person’s blood sugar after they consume it.
The current study found that highly processed foods, with added amounts of fat and/or refined carbohydrates (e.g., sugar, white flour), were most likely to be associated with behavioral indicators of addictive-like eating.
Even though the food addiction has some blurry lines, this new study can initiate new exploration into the study of obesity and food triggers.
This isn’t the first time such a study is being made. According to a study conducted in 2014 by researchers at the University of Edinburgh that delved into food addiction revealed that:
The real problem underlying our unhealthy food consumption is the psychological compulsion to eat because of the pleasure and satisfaction we get from food.
The study concluded that food addiction is a psychological disorder and not related to substances present in the food itself.
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