The Foods That Are Addictive

Carlos A. Monteiro and Geoffrey Cannon

Foods are not all potentially addictive. It is now generally agreed that the foods most liable to be addictive are processed, energy-dense and high in added sugar, fat and/or salt, and typically ultra-processed, with additional characteristics liable to make them addictive. Studies on food addiction should focus upon ultra-processed foods.

… Common ingredients of ultra-processed foods are cheap sources of protein, such as soy and other plant isolates; modified starches and sugars such as maltodextrin, high fructose corn syrup and invert sugar; and oils altered by partial hydrogenation or interesterification. Such mixtures would, by themselves, be unpalatable or disgusting, so cosmetic additives are also used. These include flavours, dyes and other colours; colour and flavour enhancers and many other types of additive. All these are not formally checked for addictive potential, or for impact on brain function …

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