It has long been suspected that processed and refined foods like chocolate, pizza and French fries may have addictive properties. You only have to look at somebody eating a bag of large Doritos (for example), chowing them down like they are a regular single bag of crisps. These individuals no doubt know that this is too much, but can’t for the life of them stop!
Interestingly, a recent study from the University of Michigan has looked into the foods that may be implicated in food addiction. Previous studies have shown that foods high in fat and refined carbs such as sugar may invoke addictive- like eating behaviour. Unprocessed foods that contain no added fat or refined sugar was not seen to cause addictive eating, conversely, people with a higher BMI were seen to have significantly higher ‘addictive- like’ eating habits when eating high fat and refined foods compared to others.
Future studies should look into whether these types of foods trigger changes in brain circuitry, similar to those seen in drug addicts and alcoholics.
Erica M. Schulte, Nicole M. Avena, Ashley N. Gearhardt. Which Foods May Be Addictive? The Roles of Processing, Fat Content, and Glycemic Load. PLOS ONE, 2015; 10 (2): e0117959 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0117959