facebook twitter RSS
HOT TOPICS: Alcoholism  Addiction  AA  Cocaine  Heroin

Are Carbs as Addictive as Cocaine?

Highly-processed carbohydrates can trigger cravings and lead to dependence, a study finds.

Image: 

The new face of hard drugs? Photo via

By Chrisanne Grise

06/27/13

| Share

A new study suggests that certain foods—specifically, starchy foods like pizza, pasta and sweets—may be as addictive as hard drugs. And researchers say limiting these foods could help in the nationwide fight against obesity. According to new research by the Boston Children’s Hospital, foods with a high-glycemic index (processed carbohydrates) may stimulate areas of the brain responsible for cravings, causing excess hunger. "These findings suggest that limiting high-glycemic index carbohydrates like white bread and potatoes could help obese individuals reduce cravings and control the urge to overeat," says David Ludwig, PhD director, New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center. In the study, twelve overweight or obese men consumed test meals designed as milkshakes, some of which contained rapidly digesting carbohydrates (high-glycemic index) while others contained slowly digesting carbohydrates (low-glycemic index). After the subjects consumed the high-glycemic index milkshake, researchers noted an initial surge in blood sugar levels before a crash four hours later. The rapid decrease caused excessive hunger, and activated the brain region known as the nucleus accumbens, which is responsible for addictive behaviors. Prior studies have examined the link between food and drug cravings, but this is the first time researchers have observed brain activity for a full four hours after the meal. The findings indicate that these foods are not only "addictive" because of their taste—but may be physically addictive, eliciting withdrawal symptoms similar to drug addiction. "Beyond reward and craving, this part of the brain is also linked to substance abuse and dependence,” says Ludwig, “which raises the question as to whether certain foods might be addictive.”

Rehabilitation Directories

Most Popular
Sober Living
A Man—With an Eating Disorder

When I tell people I have an eating disorder, I get surprise, sympathy, empathy and laughing-shock: "Men can have eating disorders?”

The Rehab Review
Cliffside Malibu
 
 
 
 

The “beach-house-relaxed” Cliffside Malibu claims to provide an oasis for recovering addicts and alcoholics. And that’s just what you'll get—if you’ve got the cash.

Morningside Recovery
 
 
 
 

For a “rehab near the beach” experience that isn’t quite as costly as similar SoCal competitors, head to this Newport Beach treatment facility.

AToN Center
 
 
 
 

Whether you’re interested in the 12 Steps, SMART Recovery, or holistic treatments, this luxurious, appealing and commendable 4.5 star (our system doesn't yet show the 1/2 star) San Diego rehab has a program for you. 

Reflections
 
 
 
 

This exclusive Northern California rehab is all about client choice—as well as golf outings, Buddhist field trips and keeping up with the office.

The Ultimate Guide to Rehab
 
 
 
 
 

What you need to know when choosing an addiction treatment center.

the fix tv