Sugar Addiction

Sugar addiction

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Sugar addiction is a popular term for the situation where individuals crave sweet foods, and find them impossible to give up. There is clearly an aspect of psychological addiction, but recent research has also identified elements of physical dependence:

"Recent behavioral tests in rats further back the idea of an overlap between sweets and drugs. Drug addiction often includes three steps. A person will increase his intake of the drug, experience withdrawal symptoms when access to the drug is cut off and then face an urge to relapse back into drug use. Rats on sugar have similar experiences. Researchers withheld food for 12 hours and then gave rats food plus sugar water. This created a cycle of binging where the animals increased their daily sugar intake until it doubled. When researchers either stopped the diet or administered an opioid blocker the rats showed signs common to drug withdrawal, such as teeth-chattering and the shakes. Early findings also indicate signs of relapse. Rats weaned off sugar repeatedly pressed a lever that previously dispensed the sweet solution." (Leah Ariniello, Brain Briefings, October 2003)

However, the sugar industry claims that similar effects have been reported for rats given solutions that tasted sweet, but contained no calories. [1]

Withdrawal symptoms have been reported, including headaches, fatigue, tremors, anxiety and depression. These effects are reported to be similar to, but slightly less intense than those associated with caffeine withdrawal. No research has been conducted as to whether table sugar (sucrose) alone is responsible for these effects, or whether any other sugars common in the diet (such as glucose or fructose) exhibit similar effects.

Some psychologists prefer to emphasize that, results of this type may indeed provide a new way of looking at overeating, but that much caution should be exercised about using them to effectively put sugar in the same category as drugs. There is some overlap between the systems that control food intake and addiction but this cannot yet unambiguously be said to necessarily make certain foods addictive.

Some animals, and some people, may become overly dependent on sweet food, particularly if they periodically stop eating and then binge. This probably relates to eating disorders such as bulimia. It would probably be more correct to refer to the laboratory rats referred to above as "sugar-dependent" rather than "addicted". In general, to be classified as an addiction, reproducible "double blind" experiments would have to show that the experimental subjects exhibited all three elements that make up the definition of this term: a behavioral pattern of increased intake and changes in brain chemistry; then signs of withdrawal and further changes in brain chemistry upon deprivation; and third, signs of craving and relapse after withdrawal is over.

In 2003, a report was commissioned by two U.N. agencies, the World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization, compiled by a panel of 30 international experts. It stated that sugar should not account for more than 10% of a healthy diet. In contrast, the US Sugar Association [2] insists that other evidence indicates that a quarter of our food and drink intake can safely consist of sugar. However, this contradicts the sugar industry's criticism of the research discussed above:

Research into sugar addiction has been largely confined to one research group at Princeton University where they fed rats chow as well as a 25% sugar solution- similar to the sugar concentration of soda-pop. In just 1 month the rats became dependent on their daily dose of sweet stuff, they gradually chose to eat less chow but increased their intake of the sugary drink until it doubled." Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter.New York:OCT 2002. Vol.20, Iss. 8; Pg.1,3 pgs. [3]

"The rats were given a drug to block their opiate-receptors and showed withdrawal signs typical of drug-addicted rats- teeth chattering, paw tremors, and head shakes."

See also


  • Kathleen DesMaisons, Ph.D. (2000). The Sugar Addict's Total Recovery Program. Ballantine Books. ISBN 0-345-44132-X.
  • Carlo Colantuoni, Pedro Rada,, Joseph McCarthy, Caroline Patten, Nicole M. Avena, Andrew Chadeayne and Bartley G. Hoebel. Evidence That Intermittent, Excessive Sugar Intake Causes Endogenous Opioid Dependence. Obesity Research 10:478-488 (2002)

External links

Source: Wikipedia

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