Most Americans, despite their consistent consumption, are aware that processed foods are unhealthy. Studies, including the most recent one, are showing that the reason why many people can’t put down that bag of Doritos or can of soda is because processed foods, particularly high-glycemic foods, which are fast-digesting carbohydrates that cause blood sugar spikes and crashes, are addicting.
In March, TSW reported on the author ofSalt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us, Michael Moss, explaining how sensory-specific satiety is how the processed food industry has remained a thriving one. “The biggest hits – be they Coca-Cola or Doritos – owe their success to complex formulas that pique the taste buds enough to be alluring but don’t have a distinct, overriding single flavor that tells the brain to stop eating,” Moss wrote, clearly indicating that junk food might be addictive.
The most recent study, titled “Effects of dietary glycemic index on brain regions related to reward and craving in men”, though, provides solid evidence with brain scans showing that high-glycemic foods actually are addictive. Researchers at the Boston Children’s Hospital fed male patients either a high glycemic meal or a low glycemic meal before analyzing their brain activity afterwards. Results of the brain scans were astonishing.
Compared with an isocaloric low-GI meal, a high-GI meal decreased plasma glucose, increased hunger, and selectively stimulated brain regions associated with reward and craving in the late postprandial period, which is a time with special significance to eating behavior at the next meal,” reads the study’s conclusion.
Interestingly, not only do processed junk foods trigger addiction, but they also have an impact on how the eater will behave when they go to eat their next meal. Such an addiction might cause the eater to consume more high-glycemic foods each time they eat in order to stimulate the reward and craving brain regions.
By Ali Papademetriou

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