A recent study has shown that there could be links to certain foods and the provocative concept of “food addiction.” It is common knowledge that drugs are addicting. Nicotine, cocaine and heroin all rewire the brain to crave the high that comes from the drugs. The craving is intense and overpowering, and the need to satisfy becomes impossible to ignore. But what if certain foods were causing this reaction as well?
The idea that food can be addicting is “provocative” because since food is something we as humans need to survive unlike drugs and alcohol, we can’t possibly become addicted to them. However, obesity rates are still on the rise and this link is something that researchers are looking into it. Dr. David Ludwig the director of the New Balance Foundation Obesity Center at Boston Children’s Hospital did a study where he took MRI scans of the brains of twelve obese men after they drank two milkshakes. Each milkshake tasted equally sweet and had the same amount of protein, carbohydrates and fat. However, one milkshake had a higher glycemic index than the other. As expected, the milkshake with the higher glycemic index shot the men’s blood sugar up and caused it to crash, leaving them feeling hungry.
When your blood sugar crashes and you are left feeling hungry, the common reaction is to eat more which could cause people to consume more calories than needed to satisfy their hunger. Researchers suggest that foods with lower glycemic indexes that keep you feeling fuller longer and do not trigger this response in the brain could help quell this supposed “addictive” nature of food.
While there is no clear cut answer as to whether food can be inherently addictive, there is evidence showing that it can cause the brain to react in similar ways. Research like this could shine light on why weight loss drugs do not work as well as people expect them too, and could help people who suffer from obesity find more effective ways to get healthy.