Romanians’ favorite foods could be reclassified as medicines. “It’s not food anymore”

Highly processed foods should be reclassified as drugs because they are addictive and as harmful as cigarettes, scientists say.

The researchers say products like donuts, sugary cereal and pizza meet the official criteria that established cigarettes as drugs in the 1990s.

These include compulsive use and mood-altering effects on the brain, and having addictive or craving-inducing properties or ingredients.

“It’s not food anymore”

Ultra-processed foods, which also include items such as juices, chips, pastries, and sweets, contain high amounts of unnatural flavorings, preservatives, and sweeteners.

These properties give them their delicious flavor, but they also make them high in calories, fat, sugar or salt, which increases the risk of obesity and other chronic diseases.

Researchers led by Dr. Ashley Gearhardt, a professor of psychology at the University of Michigan, told the Daily Mail that these foods are more drug-like due to their departure in taste and texture from natural foods. .

“These are industrially produced substances designed to provide sugar and fat,” said Dr. Alexandra DiFeliceantonio, professor of health behavior research at Virginia Tech University.

“It’s not food anymore. It’s these products that have been very well designed to deliver addictive substances.”

The researchers want to limit the marketing of these foods to children, just as nicotine advertising cannot be directed at children. But they didn’t call for a total age ban.

The obesity crisis in the United States is largely linked to the prevalence of ultra-processed foods. These foods are thought to make up about 50% of the American diet.

As a result, about 70% of Americans are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), of which 40% are classified as obese.

Dr. Gearhardt warned that even people at a healthy weight are at risk of developing long-term problems from eating junk food.

The constant increase in blood sugar through the consumption of sugary foods can also lead to diabetes.

Today, experts call for them to be regulated in the same way as nicotine.

Three dependency settings

In 1988, Dr. Charles Everett Koop, who served as the United States Surgeon General for President Ronald Reagan, published a 600-page report on nicotine addiction.

At the time, more than half of American adults smoked cigarettes, but the long-term impact of smoking was relatively unknown.

Dr. Koop used three key parameters, compulsive use, mood alteration and reinforcement, to establish that nicotine is an addictive substance.

Last year, scientists determined that the cravings that many chronic smokers experience also represent a fourth pillar of addiction.

Dr. Gearhardt and Dr. DiFeliceantonio applied the standards used to determine that nicotine is also an addictive substance for highly processed foods.

The first was compulsive use, which they described as a person wanting to eat these foods even when aware of their poor health.

“It’s hard for them to do that even when they know it’s going to kill them.”

She blamed the fat and sugar content of the foods for triggering an addictive response in the brain.

While more research is needed on unhealthy foods to determine exactly their impact on the brain, she believes the rate at which the body processes them may play a role.

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