There’s a shocking statistic about food addiction – one-fifth of people suffer it (1).
Include obese people; the figures jump.
If you are obsessed with food, you experience emotional eating.
Willpower isn’t enough to keep your eating in check.
But, not all foods cause food addiction.
Certain foods are more addictive than others. In some cases, the food addiction is high.
Researchers at the University of Michigan studied people obsessed with food These studies involves over 500 participants (5).
The research behind these findings is based on the Yale Food Addiction Scale, which is the most widely used tool for measuring food addiction (6).
Researchers provided participants with a list of 35 foods, which included processed and unprocessed items.
The people were asked to rate if it could cause a food addiction.
About 10% of the people were obsessed with food.
And 90% said they would have a hard time stop eating some of the foods on the list.
The scale used was from 1 to 7 (1 being not addictive and 7 being extremely addictive).
Below are the results and the ranking of foods.
Summary: Research shows that more than 90% had an obsession with food. And 10% had a food addiction problem.
The results about foods causing addition are interesting, though probably not surprising.
They contain higher amounts of fat and added sugar.
These are the foods causing addiction.
They’re ordered by their average rating (in parentheses) on the 1-7 scale. The higher the score, the more addictive.
- Pizza (4.01)
- Chocolate (3.73)
- Chips (3.73)
- Cookies (3.71)
- Ice Cream (3.68)
- French fries (3.60)
- Cheeseburgers (3.51)
- Soda (regular, not diet) (3.29)
- Cake (3.26)
- Cheese (3.22)
- Bacon (3.03)
- Fried Chicken (2.97)
- Rolls (2.73)
- Popcorn (with butter) (2.64)
- Cereal (2.59)
- Gummy-type candy (2.57)
- Steak (2.54)
Summary: The above list includes food causing addiction. Research shows some contain added sugar and fat.
The study not only shows the most addictive foods. It also gives us insight into the least addictive foods. Take a look at the list (and notice that they’re mostly whole foods, such as the ingredients in SuperBeets).
- Cucumbers (1.53)
- Carrots (1.60)
- Beans (1.63)
- Apples (1.66)
- Brown rice (1.74)
- Broccoli (1.74)
- Bananas (1.77)
- Salmon (1.84)
- Corn (1.88)
- Strawberries (1.88)
- Granola bar (1.93)
- Water (1.94)
- Crackers (2.07)
- Pretzels (2.13)
- Chicken breast (2.16)
- Eggs (2.18)
- Nuts (2.47)
Summary: Addictive foods are processed foods. The study shows the least addictive foods are whole foods.
Some people are obsessed with food, it is more than a lack of willpower. But, that’s not the whole story.
There are other causes of food addiction.
These foods cause imbalances in your blood sugar levels.
Add to that a high-calorie count, and you have a recipe for food addiction.
Does your brain cause food addiction?
The brain releases dopamine – a chemical playing a role in reward-motivated behavior.
This function helps with survival. It makes eating fun, which motivates you to remain well nourished.
In order to feel more good feelings, your brain tells you to find addictive foods.
In the end, you’re trapped in a cycle of being obsessed with food (15).
Summary: Eating processed foods increase cravings and sugar imbalances. The brain releases dopamine, which increases cravings – leading to food addiction.
Conclusion on Food Addiction
Being obsessed with food is a problem. Some foods are more likely to cause addiction than others.
Studies support basing your diet on whole foods.
Unlike processed foods, whole foods cause a release of feel-good chemicals in your brain. You avoid cravings and reduce the chance of food addiction.
Instead of food controlling your life, you control it. You’ll stay mentally, physically and emotionally healthy.
Summer Banks, Director of Content at Dietspotlight, has researched over 5000 weight-loss programs, pills, shakes and diet plans. Previously, she managed 15 supplement brands, worked with doctors specializing in weight loss and completed coursework in nutrition at Stanford University. full bio.