This clinically significant addiction to highly processed foods, characterised by a loss of control over intake, strong cravings, and an inability to cut back despite negative effects, appears to affect up to one in five people.
According to Lindzey Hoover, a graduate student in psychology at the University of Michigan and the study's lead author, "people who have a family history of addiction may be at greater risk for developing a problematic relationship with highly processed foods, which is really challenging in a food environment where these foods are cheap, accessible, and heavily marketed."
The study found that people with food addiction were also more likely to experience personal issues with alcohol, cannabis, tobacco, and vaping. However, addictive responses did not stop with food.
The main causes of avoidable death in the modern world are diets that are dominated by foods that have been heavily processed and excessive consumption of addictive substances. According to this study, interventions are required to simultaneously decrease addictive eating and drug use.
Hoover said that it may be crucial to take into account public health strategies that have lessened the harm of other addictive substances, such as banning marketing to children.