Is Junk Food as Addictive as Cocaine?
Sheesh, scientists — all you had to do was ask and we could’ve told you that cookies are like cocaine, chips are akin to crack, and nachos might as well be nicotine. But they had to go and make it official. As Bloomberg reports, a body of new research shows that the consumption of processed foods and sugar-laden drinks can cause a high in the brain that’s not all that different than drugs.
“The data is so overwhelming the field has to accept it,” Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, tells the news service. “We are finding tremendous overlap between drugs in the brain and food in the brain.”
The research includes animal lab studies that have found a correlation between junk food and drugs; human brain scans of overeaters that support the idea; and in 2011 alone, no fewer than 28 studies and published scientific papers on food addition, Bloomberg adds.
So, if drugs are banned for their addictive qualities, what could this mean for Twinkies, Red Bull and Ruffles? Will there be, as Miranda called it in one memorable episode of Sex and City, an onslaught of Betty Crocker Clinics? Will they take away our Doritos, our Chubby Hubby or our – gasp! – Jr. Bacon Cheeseburgers?
Not if food industry lobbyists can help it. According to Bloomberg, some in the field question whether there’s even such a thing as food addiction.
“I have never heard of anyone robbing a bank to get money to buy a candy bar or ice cream or pop,” Richard Adamson, a consultant for the American Beverage Association, tells the news service. Hmm, he clearly doesn’t know the power of a 4 p.m. sugar craving.
So what’s next? We can see the frosting-smeared PSA campaign now: This is your brain on cupcakes. Any questions?