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Is Fast Food Addictive?

Is Fast Food Really Addictive? - The Answer is Truly an Eye-opener

In the recent years the consumption of fast food has increased manifold due to a lot of people believe that fast food is addictive. Is it really so? Let's find out.
NutriNeat Staff
Last Updated: Apr 22, 2018
How many times in the last week alone did you reach for a burger or for french fries with soda, when you were hungry? How many times has it happened that after a bout of eating fast food, did you feel overstuffed? Well you are not the only one, who is thinking whether fast food is addictive. A lot of research has been conducted to find out, whether one can actually get addicted to fast food. It all started with obesity reaching epidemic proportions. After it was established, that fast food does indeed cause weight problems, scientists started probing whether fast food can be addictive. The research has shown that addiction to fast food is very similar to addiction to alcohol or drugs.

Is Fast Food Addictive and Why?

Fast food started off, being the convenience food for people on the run, who did not have the time to cook food and pack it. They could just grab a bite or two and not go without food for extended hours at length. However, in the last few years, fast food has gone onto become staple food for a number of people not only in the United States, but also in almost all around the world. We cannot forget the multimillion dollar advertising campaigns, that attract people to fast food and people turn to them to curb their cravings and hunger in some cases.

If the fast food eating habits are to be analyzed, one can see that initially it is consumed as it is a need for a number of people. However, eventually fast food consumption becomes a regular feature. Research points to the fact, that fast food has been so designed, that it becomes like an addiction to alcohol or drugs. Fast food items are rich in sugar, fat and salt, which are high rewarding ingredients. It is these ingredients in the fast food, which compel people to consume more and more of these foods. A research conducted on rats showed that the cells in the brains were overstimulated, which is similar to cells getting stimulated due to drugs like cocaine. Over a period of time, the pleasure centers are overloaded and the need for more and more of fast food arises. When the rats were given healthy foods, it was seen that some of the rats would starve themselves for want of fast food and not consume healthy food for as long as two weeks.

When fast food eating facts are to be analyzed, there is a complex decision process which needs to be studied as well. The fast food eating disorders would not arise if decision-making process is consciously exercised by the individual. The individual will have to analyze how rewarding is it to actually be consuming fast food.

A research to find if fast food is addictive conducted on rats showed, that when the rats were taken off fast food, they showed symptoms of anxiety. Withdrawal symptoms, like chattering of teeth and shaking, etc., which are seen when a person goes off nicotine, morphine, etc., were also noticed. Therefore, it was concluded that individuals become addicted to the ingredients in fast food like sugar, fat and salt. Sometimes it was seen, that the rats would exercise no control on whether they were actually hungry, when they were consuming fast food items. This is what led to the rats becoming obese. It can be attributed to the fact, that the sugars in fast food cause blood sugar to increase and then it plunges down, due to which the desire for eating further is created.

From the facts above, it can be concluded that answer to 'is fast food addictive' is 'Yes'. However, if the person has to exercise some control over his/her eating habits, the problem will not be caused. At the same time, it is best to be surrounded by healthy food, so that one does not reach for the unhealthy fast food items. Some trouble will have to be taken to tune the brains to look at healthy items for eating before signals for fast food are given. If you are consuming fast food almost everyday and also more than twice a day, then it may be a sign of addiction to fast food. Measures will have to be taken, before it gets way out of hand.