Sugar addiction: pushing the drug-sugar analogy to the limit.

Serge H. Ahmed, Karine Guillem, Youna Vandaele
Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care. 2013-07-01; 16(4): 434-439
DOI: 10.1097/mco.0b013e328361c8b8

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1. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2013 Jul;16(4):434-9. doi:

Sugar addiction: pushing the drug-sugar analogy to the limit.

Ahmed SH(1), Guillem K, Vandaele Y.

Author information:
(1)Université de Bordeaux, Bordeaux, France.

PURPOSE OF REVIEW: To review research that tests the validity of the analogy
between addictive drugs, like cocaine, and hyperpalatable foods, notably those
high in added sugar (i.e., sucrose).
RECENT FINDINGS: Available evidence in humans shows that sugar and sweetness can
induce reward and craving that are comparable in magnitude to those induced by
addictive drugs. Although this evidence is limited by the inherent difficulty of
comparing different types of rewards and psychological experiences in humans, it
is nevertheless supported by recent experimental research on sugar and sweet
reward in laboratory rats. Overall, this research has revealed that sugar and
sweet reward can not only substitute to addictive drugs, like cocaine, but can
even be more rewarding and attractive. At the neurobiological level, the neural
substrates of sugar and sweet reward appear to be more robust than those of
cocaine (i.e., more resistant to functional failures), possibly reflecting past
selective evolutionary pressures for seeking and taking foods high in sugar and
SUMMARY: The biological robustness in the neural substrates of sugar and sweet
reward may be sufficient to explain why many people can have difficultly to
control the consumption of foods high in sugar when continuously exposed to them.

DOI: 10.1097/MCO.0b013e328361c8b8
PMID: 23719144 [Indexed for MEDLINE]

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