Sugar Addiction: Fact or Fiction?

Reprinted from Eating Disorders Review
January/February 2010 Volume 21, Number 1
©2010 Gürze Books

It’s an idea that has worked its way into the realm of what might be called “near-fact”; that is, the concept that sugar is an addictive substance and that it plays a role in obesity and eating disorders.

Dr. David Benton, of the University of Swansea, in Wales, decided to examine the literature where a series of predictions followed the hypothesis that addiction to sucrose can develop and that fasting should increase food cravings, particularly cravings for sweet foods.

Dr. Benton could find no support for the hypothesis that sucrose may be physically addictive or that addition to sugar can lead to eating disorders. The conclusion was that basing this theory on the results of studies in rats alone cannot be used to extrapolate to human beings. The author also notes that the results of his review should not imply that widespread availability of palatable and inexpensive foods hasn’t been an important ingredient in the increase of obesity throughput the globe. Rather, he writes, it is important that the underlying mechanisms are clearly understood so this knowledge can lead to appropriate responses (Clin Nutr (2010)doi:10.1016/j.clnu.2009.12.001).

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