Is Sugar Addictive? How Your Brain Interprets Sugar as a Reward

### Sugar Addiction: A Growing Concern Among Researchers

Psychologist Ashley Gearhardt, a University of Michigan professor, and creator of the Yale Food Addiction Scale, has encountered patients who struggle to resist sugary treats despite knowing the negative impact on their health. Gearhardt believes that the compulsivity some individuals experience when it comes to sugar consumption is a sign of addiction.

#### Sugar’s Mood-Altering Effects

Gearhardt points to the mood-altering effects of sugar consumption to support her argument. The idea that humans can become dependent on sugar is exemplified in commercials like the 2015 Snickers ad featuring actor Danny Trejo. Gearhardt believes that the pleasure-inducing nature of sugar drives individuals to consume it for reasons beyond mere sustenance.

#### The Debate Over Sugar Addiction

While some studies suggest that sugar addiction is a real phenomenon, others, like Margaret Westwater, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Oxford and Yale School of Medicine, argue against it. Westwater conducted a review of scientific research on sugar and addiction, finding no conclusive evidence to support the idea that sugar consumption leads to addictive behaviors.

#### Proposal to Classify Sugar as Addictive

Gearhardt and her team are advocating for highly rewarding and ultra-processed foods, particularly those high in sugar, to be classified as addictive substances. They plan to submit an application to include sugar addiction in diagnostic frameworks like the DSM, a move that could legitimize the condition and help healthcare providers identify and treat it.

#### Challenges in Regulating Sugar Consumption

Regulating sugar consumption poses challenges similar to those faced in the tobacco industry. Emily Broad Leib, a Harvard Law School professor, believes that systemwide solutions to address sugar addiction will be difficult to implement. Despite successful campaigns in some cities to tax sugary drinks, the pervasive presence of sugar in various food products makes it challenging for individuals to monitor and control their intake.

In conclusion, the debate over whether sugar is truly addictive continues among researchers, with differing opinions on the matter. While some advocate for classifying sugar as an addictive substance, regulatory challenges and industry resistance may impede efforts to address sugar addiction on a larger scale.

Original Story at – 2024-06-05 10:02:00

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