Whether it’s a good or bad day, we always look forward to eating some good food. Some experts say that it can even be considered an addiction because of how badly we crave and depend on food.
A team of researchers from the Department of Psychology at the University of Michigan and from the New York Obesity Research Center at the Mount Sinai – St. Lukes Hospital had conducted a study that focuses on some of the most addictive foods, with pizza topping the list, unsurprisingly. Their aim is to better understand what foods trigger an addictive response in some people.
“Food Addicts” Display Similar Brain Patterns To Drug Addicts
Like other types of addiction, there are key indicators that characterize food addiction and it includes:
Inability To Cut Down
When we decided to live well and eat healthily, we instantly give up our favorite food. People with food addiction go through the same dilemma; they simply can’t resist taking and eating more.
Loss Of Control Over Consumption
People suffering from food addiction tend to overeat and indulge in more servings than necessary whether or not they are hungry.
Continued Use Despite The Negative Consequence
Some foods are simply not good for our health that is why we really need to avoid them. But when it comes to those with food addiction, they can’t say NO even if it means putting their health at risk.
“Food addicts” and drug addicts showed a striking similarity in their brain patterns in neuroimaging studies: Food addiction showed an increased activation of the reward regions of the brain in response to food cues, much like other types of addiction. With this direct connection to the brain, the researchers posited that the foods on their list may trigger an addictive response, which leads to overeating.
In order to determine which foods are most likely to trigger addiction, human studies must be conducted. This is what the researchers aim to know and understand. Involved in their two-part study are surveying 120 undergraduate students and conducting questionnaire among 384 other participants.
For the first part, the Yale Food Addiction Scale (YFAS) was first shown to participants aged between 18 and 23. YFAS is a measure developed to determine who are most likely to exhibit markers of substance dependence in consuming high-sugar and high-fat foods. The scale is most often used as a standard criterion for substance dependence.
Food pairings were then presented to the participants and they were asked to choose which among the pairs were likely to cause them “problems” as described by YFAS. The results showed that of the 35 food options presented, high-processed foods, which contain more fat and higher glycemic load, were most likely to be associated with addictive-like eating behaviors.
A more diverse sampling was presented by the second part of the study wherein the participants, aged between 18 to 64, were asked to rate each of the 35 foods on the Likert scale, a psychometric scale where responders choose their level of agreement and disagreement in a particular statement.
The participants in this study were given the freedom to rate each food from 1 to 7, with 7 being the “most problematic” or “most addictive.”
Top 20 Most Addictive Foods
The researchers were able to list down the top 20 most addictive foods according to their respondents although there’s a slight variation between the two studies.
Here’s the list of foods from most to least addictive:
- Ice cream
- French fries
- Non-diet soda
- Fried chicken
- Buttered popcorn
There are still a few more factors to take into consideration although the study seems to show a better understanding of food addiction.
It was concluded by a neuropsychologist named Dr. Diane Robinson, Ph.D. that an emotional aspect must be considered when it comes to food since there are foods that comfort us in bad mood or make us feel rewarded for good behavior. According to the researchers, their study only suggests that these foods trigger a certain response that may lead to overeating.