When most people think about substance abuse they do not think of sugar, but there is such a thing as a sugar addiction and many people struggle with this issue. For years scientific study after scientific study has shown that sugar can trigger the pleasure and reward centers in the brain the same way that drugs and alcohol do. These brain areas are responsible for controlling the release of dopamine, a feel good neurotransmitter that the brain produces. For many people sugar stimulates the same areas of the brain that alcohol, morphine and other opiates like heroin, nicotine, and cocaine stimulate, and this can lead to an addiction. Just because sugar is not illegal and it does not come with a warning label does not mean that this substance is not addictive.
Princeton University Department of Psychology researchers reported that “the physiological consequences of binge eating may be similar, whether engaged in naturally because of hunger, casually for social or hedonic reasons, or regularly enough to warrant a diagnosis.” In a study which was published in 2009 in the Journal of Nutrition, “Sugar and Fat Bingeing Have Notable Differences in Addictive-like Behavior”, sugar addiction is evaluated just like any other type of substance abuse and addiction. The study authors examined why binging does not include healthy foods like broccoli, and the authors stated that “Individuals with a preference for bingeing on sweet foods tend to binge more frequently. There must be some property of palatable “dessert” and “snack” foods rich in sugar and/or fat that promotes binge eating. Sugars and fats are well known to have different effects on physiology and brain chemistry, which may be related to their different effects on behavior.”