Food addiction: How junk food affects the brain like drugs

Food addiction: How junk food affects the brain like drugs


How food companies have turned consumers into food addicts

Have you ever blacked out and woken up with a heavy orange dusting of cheese on your fingertips? Have you ever reached into a crinkly foil bag and been surprised to find that it is already empty? Have you spent the day after a major junk food binge wallowing in pain and self-loathing? If so, then you know how the addictive quality of certain foods is no joke.

Food addiction

I will ravage this bag…

A biological predisposition

When we eat, of course, we are seeking to fuel our bodies with a healthful balance of proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, fats, and other nutrients. The “goal” in eating is to give the body just enough of the right nutrients to function at peak level, without consuming an excess of any one thing. An “excess” would be defined as anything that we don’t need to sustain our typical day-to-day activities.

The catch is, our bodies still derive food cravings based on the daily demands of our human ancestors, who had a more active lifestyle. This evolutionary remnant means that modern humans are hardwired to enjoy and want to consume fats, sugars and salts, the basic elements of energy and sustenance.

Capitalistic greed

Unfortunately, food companies have gleaned onto this little nugget of truth, and are exploiting it for their own profit, and at the expense of consumers’ health. Cheetos, for example, were specifically designed to get consumers to eat more. Their melt-in-your-mouth texture tricks your brain into thinking you haven’t been eating, their mild flavor ensures consumers’ palates don’t get blown out even after eating large quantities, and their high fat and salt content makes them absolutely crave-able (i.e., addictive).

In fact, a recent study showed that lab rats spontaneously developed compulsive eating habits when fed a high-fat, high-calorie diet.  This compulsive behavior is very similar to that of a drug addict.

Finally, 1World voters overwhelmingly said that certain foods could be just as addictive as drugs. Among the general population, 82% voted this way. Looking at the demographics, neither gender, age, income, education level, marital status nor political affiliation made any significant difference in voting results.

So, what do you think? Can foods be as addictive as drugs? Vote on our poll below, then check out other Food and Drink polls on 1World Online!

Garrett Miller

Content Staff / Blogger at 1World Online
Garrett Miller is a writer and amateur food blogger from Los Altos, CA. He loves cooking, cuddling with his animal (and human) friends, playing guitar and dabbling in short fiction writing.