Have you ever felt addicted to Ben & Jerry’s? Or eaten so much pizza you thought you might never eat again? A new study sheds light on different types of foods and people’s attitudes towards them.
Dr. Nicole Avena of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai has recently published a study that she hopes will pave the way for more research on how and why people eat certain foods. Some experts dispute the concept of food addiction. It is not officially recognized by the medical profession.
In Avena’s study, she asked 504 people to label what foods they found most addictive. Using something called the Yale Food Addiction Scale, a measure that asks people to respond to statements such as "I eat to the point where I feel physically ill," Avena’s participants identified their most problematic foods.
The biggest offenders? Pizza and chocolate scored highest on the problem food list. They were followed by chips, cookies and ice cream.
The least addictive foods? Plain cucumbers and carrots.
The study, published in the journal PLOS One, shows that highly-processed foods were the most problematic. These foods, which are high in added fat and sugar, are more likely to raise a person’s blood sugar level after eating. Avena says that this physical change is similar to the effect that drugs and alcohol can have.
While this is the first clinical study to look at the connection between certain types of food and how people eat them, Avena hopes it can lead to an improvement in obesity treatment. Similar studies have generally focused on animals, so there is likely a long road ahead before researchers can prove that certain food properties can change our brains. In the meantime, if you’ve got a food craving, try eating an apple.