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High Fat Food Addictive Like Cocaine

bigstock-Diet-Woman-Kicking-Donut-Snack-32920040What we feed our children now will affect them their whole lives.  Raw and whole foods provide necessary nutrients for brain and physical development, as well as emotional well-being. Recently, research has found high fat food actually alters our brains resulting in addiction similar to cocaine.

Discovery News reports:

Eating unlimited amounts of high-fat food for just six weeks before resuming a more reasonable diet is enough to cause anxiety, intense cravings and other withdrawal-like symptoms in mice. The rodents also experienced chemical changes in their brains that suggested parallels between the ways they respond to fatty and sugary foods and the ways they respond to harder drugs, like cocaine. Together, the new findings add to a growing body of research into the addictive qualities of junk food. “What this means from my interpretation is that it’s important to prepare oneself for the low that can be experienced from changing the diet and removing palatable high-fat, high-sugar rewards,” said Stephanie Fulton, a neuroscientist at the University of Montreal. “We can try to plan for the low and replace food with other things that give us pleasure, whatever that might be.”

High fat food is typically studied for its contribution to obesity, but even if one doesn’t gain weight, these foods are mind altering.  Discovery News continues:

At the same time, the researchers measured changes in brain chemicals, including dopamine and a molecule called CREB, which have been linked in previous work to both food cravings and drug addictions. “Even periods of high-fat feeding that don’t leave to obesity can produce several important biochemical and behavioral changes that make it hard to give up,” Fulton said. The new study is one of many that are adding up to demonstrate how high-fat, high-sugar foods affect not just our waistlines, Avena said, but also our brains. “It’s important that people know these types of studies are going on and that the findings that are being discovered are relatively consistent,” she said. “It might make people think twice about the kinds of foods they eat and why they are eating them and whether there might be some kind of addition-like compulsion to eat certain kinds of foods.” “It’s a new way to think about food,” she added. “It’s about us having to eat foods as opposed to us wanting those foods.” In contrast, previous researchers found that we need to increase our intake of fruits and vegetables to at least seven servings a day.  In contrast, increased consumption of fruits and vegetables does not cause addition, unfortunately, but is responsible for better mental health. Professor Andrew Oswald from the Centre for Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy in the Department of Economics at the University of Warwick, said: ‘This study has shown surprising results and I have decided it is prudent to eat more fruit and vegetables. I am keen to stay cheery.’… Their study, published in the journal Social Indicators Research, concludes: ‘Our findings are consistent with the need for high levels of fruit-and-vegetable consumption for mental health and not merely for physical health.’ The academics do not know exactly how fruit and veg may improve wellbeing. But they contain chemicals known as antioxidants which are thought to reduce stress levels. Recently several studies have found that children who eat more fruit and veg are less at risk of depression in later life.

This last statement I found particularly important.  If we feed our children right now, we are not only setting them up for a happier life, we are also preventing a life long struggle with addiction.  What parent would knowingly set their child up for the struggles of drug addiction?   We do the grocery shopping; we are responsible for the food the comes into our homes.  Just like we wouldn’t bring cocaine into our homes, we should not stock our pantries with high fat food. Image:  Diet Woman Kicking Donut Snacks on Bigstock


  1. I needed this reminder. I was so careful with my first three to make sure they did not eat a lot of junk. But we have a little one with three siblings and it has been much harder to limit her consumption of sweets and high fat foods. This information is not surprising but it is chilling and I needed this kick in the pants to start being more careful with our littlest.

  2. It’s high sugar that is the biggest culprit, I think. The right fat profile can be quite beneficial in moderation…


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