Research Points To Addictive Quality Of Ultra-Processed Foods

March 14, 2024

When they see the sign of their favorite fast food place or the packaging of their favorite snack, they have more brain activity and are potentially feeling more craving activity that could make them more likely to consume that food.

Associate director of the Center for Health Behaviors Research at Virginia Tech, Alexandra DiFeliceantonio, who co-authored a study focusing on how the brain responds to high-fat, high-sugar food.  

Why It Matters: The study is part of an increasing body of research indicating that ultra-processed foods likely affect both our bodies and our brains. The research suggests that ultra-processed foods – including chips and packaged snacks – can negatively influence the way people feel, remember and learn. Research points to addictive qualities of eating these types of foods as it impacts the brain’s reward system, and some scientists are suggesting a new mental-health condition called “highly-processed food use disorder” or ultra-processed food use disorder, which could be used in diagnosing patients.

Something to Consider: Makers of foods such as processed meats and muffins defend their products, and note that there isn’t a consistent, universally accepted definition of ultra-processed food,” explains The Wall Street Journal.

Read More: The New Science on What Ultra-Processed Food Does to Your Brain (The Wall Street Journal)

by Emily Hooker, based in Texas