Signs You May Be Addicted to Junk Food

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If chips and candy bars have a strong hold on your mind — and waistline — you’re not alone.

Nearly 13% of older Americans meet the criteria for a junk food and beverage addiction, according to new data from the University of Michigan’s National Poll on Healthy Aging, which surveyed more than 2,100 people ages 50 to 80 Was.

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So, who is most likely to become addicted to highly processed foods?

Who is most likely to become addicted to junk food?
senior woman eating junk foodcgn089 /

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The survey found that women (18%) were more likely than men (8%) to meet the criteria for addiction to highly processed foods. Addiction is especially prevalent among women ages 50 to 64, with 22% in that age group meeting that criteria.

Among all survey respondents, the likelihood of being addicted was higher among those who reported:

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Overweight Lonely Fair Or In Poor Mental Health Can You Really Be Addicted To Food?
woman eating tangerinesCandybox Images /

It may seem that becoming a food addict is impossible. But in summarizing the findings, University of Michigan psychologist Ashley Gearhart says:

“The word addiction may seem strong when it comes to food, but research has shown that our brains respond strongly to highly processed foods, especially those high in sugar, simple starches and fats, such as They do tobacco, alcohol and other addictive substances.

To meet the researchers’ criteria for addiction to highly processed food, older adults had to have experienced at least two of 11 symptoms of addiction in the past year. They also had to report “significant eating distress or life problems” several times weekly.

Are you addicted to junk food?
woman eating potato chipsprostock-studio /

Survey participants were asked questions about any foods they had had difficulty with in the past year, but specifically about sweets, starches, salty snacks, fatty foods, and sugary drinks.

According to researchers, the most common symptoms of addiction to such foods are:

Having an urge to eat certain foods so strong that you can’t think about anything else (at least once a week)—reported by 24% of survey respondents trying but not eating certain foods Failing to cut down on substances (two to three times a week) – 19% Eating certain foods after experiencing emotional problems due to not eating those foods (once a week) – 17% Enjoying them as much now Not getting as much as you used to out of eating the same amount of food (two to three times a week). – 13% Friends or family worry about your overeating (once a month) – 12% Now what?
couple cooking in the kitchenDean Drobot /

In summarizing the poll’s findings, Dr. Jeffrey Kullgren — director of the poll and an associate professor of internal medicine at Michigan Medicine and physician and researcher at the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System — says the poll’s results suggest that physicians should more fully need to understand how food addiction relates to the physical and mental health of their patients:

“We need to recognize that cravings and behaviors around food are rooted in brain chemistry and heredity, and that some people may need additional support to quit smoking or drinking.”

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