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Is sugar
addictive?

The concern

Sweet foods taste good and make us feel good so resisting temptation can be a real challenge.

Scientific research has confirmed that sweet foods elicit an emotional pleasure response in our brains so when we need an energy boost, it’s natural to fantasise about a favourite treat.

A longing or a craving can be referred to as an addiction even if it differs from the medical definition, which notes an increasing physical dependence and withdrawal symptoms when the substance is denied.

The evidence from a number of studies doesn’t support a claim that sugar is addictive to people.

So, while we can long for something sweet, no physical harm comes from saying no.

That said, cravings can be kept under control by making room for a treat every now and then, keeping track of what you’re eating and drinking, and enjoying a varied diet based on the healthy eating guidelines.

Check out the Resources page to find our more

References: 

On food versus eating addictions – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25205078

Obesity and the brain – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22414944 

Sugar Research Advisory Service FAQ on sugar and addiction