Most of us have felt the urge, the unstoppable craving driving us to seek out something sweet and devour it in a flash. That uncontrollable yen for cookies, cake or ice cream or that whole basket of bread call­ing to us to finish it off. Why do you overeat? Why does that cookie have such power over you, even though you know it will make you fat and sick? Is it an indication of your moral weakness, lack of will power, or is it a powerful hard­wired brain response over which you have little control?

Debate has raged recently about whether junk food, the hyper-processed, hyper-palatable food that has become our SAD (stan­dard American diet) is addic­tive in the same way that heroin or cocaine is addic­tive. A new study pub­lished in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition sug­gests that, in fact, higher sugar, higher glycemic foods can be addictive.

David Ludwig, author of Ending the Food Fight, and his colleagues at Harvard, in a very sophisticated study, showed that foods with more sugar, foods that raise blood sugar even more than table sugar such as white flour, white pota­toes and refined starch have what is called a high glycemic index, trigger a spe­cial region in the brain called the nucleus accum­bens that is known to be “ground zero” for con­ven­tional addiction, such as gam­bling or drug abuse.

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