What is it about?

There is evidence to suggest that people can become addicted to highly processed foods containing high amounts of refined carbohydrates and/or fats. These include foods such as ice cream, chocolate, pizza, and fries. For the first time, we have shown that people with a parent with a history of alcohol problems are at a greater risk for showing signs of addiction to highly processed foods. People with food addiction were also more likely to have personal problems with alcohol, cannabis, cigarettes, and nicotine vaping.

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Why is it important?

Food addiction is marked by loss of control over intake, intense cravings, and an inability to cut down despite negative consequences. As many as 1 in 5 people seem to show these clinically significant signs of addiction to highly processed foods. Our study suggests that people with a family history of addiction may be at a greater risk for problems with highly processed foods. In our modern world, highly processed foods are becoming increasingly cheap, accessible, and heavily marketed and diets high in highly processed foods as well as excessive use of addictive substances are among the leading causes of preventable death. Public health approaches that have reduced the harm of other addictive substances, like marketing restrictions to kids, may be important to reducing the negative impacts of highly processed foods.

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This page is a summary of: Co-occurrence of food addiction, obesity, problematic substance use, and parental history of problematic alcohol use., Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, July 2022, American Psychological Association (APA), DOI: 10.1037/adb0000870.
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