“We propose that highly processed foods share pharmacokinetic properties (e.g. concentrated dose, rapid rate of absorption) with drugs of abuse, due to the addition of fat and/or refined carbohydrates and the rapid rate the refined carbohydrates are absorbed into the system,” write graduate student Erica Schulte and Dr. Ashley Gearhardt, of the University of Michigan.
In English, the two are looking at finding a connection between drugs of addiction and foods of addiction.
They characterise addiction as “loss of control over consumption, continued use despite negative consequences, and an inability to cut down despite the desire to do so.” They back up their claims with a study of 504 participants, who helped them assess which foods are hardest to resist.
“Although the causes of obesity are multifactorial, one potential contributing factor is the idea certain foods may be capable of triggering an addictive response in some individuals, which may lead to unintended overeating,” the authors write.
The study explored how gender and body mass index (BMI) affected the addiction – gender was found to have little effect while people wither higher BMI’s were found to have a broader range of addictive foods.
Chocolate topped this test but the results didn’t inspire confidence in the authors of the test, so they expanded to another 384 people where they were asked to rate foods on a scale of 1-7.
Pizza topped this test handily, with a mean score of 4.07 with chocolate and fries coming in at 3.73. At the bottom of the addictiveness scale came cucumber, carrots and beans. Even water ranked higher than these.
Unsurprisingly, the test shows that fatty, sugary foods are more addictive than healthy foods. Interestingly, coffee was not on the list, so a winners brawl between coffee and pizza will have to wait until another time.