People with a parent with a history of alcohol problems are at greater risk for showing signs of addiction to highly processed foods, according to a new study.
These foods, such as ice cream, chocolate, pizza, and fries, contain unnaturally high amounts of refined carbohydrates and fats that may trigger an addictive response in some people.
The researchers wanted to know if a major risk factor for addiction—a parent with alcohol problems—predicted an increased risk of addiction to highly processed foods.
“People who have a family history of addiction may be at greater risk for developing a problematic relationship with highly processed foods, which is really challenging in a food environment where these foods are cheap, accessible, and heavily marketed,” says Lindzey Hoover, a psychology graduate student at the University of Michigan, and lead author of the study in Psychology of Addictive Behaviors.
But addictive responses didn’t end with food, as people with food addiction were also more likely to exhibit personal problems with alcohol, cannabis, tobacco, and vaping, the research shows.
Diets dominated by highly processed food and excessive intake of addictive substances are leading causes of preventable death in the modern world. This study suggests that interventions are needed to simultaneously reduce addictive eating and substance use.
“Public health approaches that have reduced the harm of other addictive substances, like restricting marketing to kids, may be important to consider to reduce the negative impact of highly processed foods,” Hoover says.
Additional coauthors are from the University of Tasmania, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and the University of Michigan.
Source: University of Michigan