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Researchers from Auckland Regional Public Health Service cautioned that carbohydrate laden foods such as cornflakes and croissants could turn out to be as addictive as cigarettes and that people who binge on carbohydrate-rich foods might be fighting addiction.

A diet high in simple carbohydrates from processed foods, such as white bread, sweets, fizzy drinks and syrups, causes obesity and according to the researchers addiction too.

These heavily processed carbohydrates lead to drastic increase in blood-sugar levels, which stimulates the same areas of the brain associated with addiction to nicotine and other drugs. The researchers suggest that the sugar content of foods can predict their "addictive potential" and call for tougher regulation.

They believe that reducing sugar content in commonly consumed food items enforced by regulation could break addiction and bring large public health benefits.

In their study, the researchers saw that people who binged on high-carbohydrate foods experienced symptoms of addiction loss of control, a compulsion to keep taking higher amounts to get the same "buzz", and suffering depression if they went "cold turkey".
Like those addicted to cocaine and alcohol, people with a higher body mass index had fewer brain pleasure receptors.

Highly refined foods should be treated in the same way as cigarettes banning TV advertisements, taxing them and insisting on health warning labels.


I agree that a diet high in simple carbs from processed foods can be bad for your health. However, I don't think highly refined foods should be treated in the same category as tobacco, cocaine and alcohol as I feel that the latter products are far more harmful to health than highly refined foods. It is a good idea to reduce sugar content in commonly consumed food items. However, people can always add sugar to those items to enhance sweetness, or simply stop buying them. Eating habits are developed early in childhood, and cultural conditioning can be a difficult obstable to overcome.