When you’re a busy teen rushing from school to activities or trying to find time to cram for finals, it sure is easier to pick up packaged grab-and-go foods. It’s hard to find time to sit down to a home cooked meal!
But maybe it’s more than convenience making you choose chips and reach for sweets.
Could you actually be addicted to junk food?
It’s possible, according to a new article from Bloomberg Buisessweek that reports, “A growing body of medical research at leading universities and government laboratories suggests that processed foods and sugary drinks made by the likes of PepsiCo Inc. and Kraft Foods Inc. aren’t simply unhealthy. They can hijack the brain in ways that resemble addictions to cocaine, nicotine and other drugs.”
Does it sound far-fetched that you could be addicted to soda and other sugary or salty snack food? Just look at one study from Princeton University that, according to the the article, studied whether lab rats could become addicted to a 10 percent solution of sugar water, which, by the way, is about as much sugar as you get when you consume soft drinks:
“An occasional drink caused no problems for the lab animals. Yet the researchers found dramatic effects when the rats were allowed to drink sugar-water every day. Over time they drank ‘more and more and more’ while eating less of their usual diet, said Nicole Avena, who began the work as a graduate student at Princeton and is now a neuroscientist at the University of Florida.
The animals also showed withdrawal symptoms, including anxiety, shakes and tremors, when the effect of the sugar was blocked with a drug. The scientists, moreover, were able to determine changes in the levels of dopamine in the brain, similar to those seen in animals on addictive drugs.”
Of course, snacking doesn’t have to be addictive, or even bad for you. You just need to make smart choices: Popcorn, apples, carrots, trail mix, hummus and pita, and fruit or energy bars are all good options. Get more advice on good eating habits in our article Tackling Stress With Good Nutrition.
Tell us how you keep your body healthy — even when you get busy! What’s your favorite study snack?
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