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Betcha can’t eat just one

Remember comedian Bert Lahr as the devil repeating the 1967 slogan for Lay’s Potato Chips above? It may have been funny, but he wasn’t kidding. Highly-processed foods are addictive is because they trigger the release of dopamine (an opioid) in the brain’s reward system at levels comparable to nicotine or alcohol. Many of elders eat them not only because they require no preparation beyond opening a bag, but to trigger pleasure to cope with the difficult emotions associated with aging. Hmmm, perhaps we should call it “dope-of-mine?”

Addiction to Highly Processed Food Among Older Adults

Ashley Gearhardt, Ph.D, University of Michigan National Poll on Healthy Aging, January 30, 2023

Highly processed foods like sweetened beverages, chips, and fast food can be addictive for some people, just like cigarettes and alcohol. Symptoms of addiction to highly processed food include feeling a loss of control over consumption, intense cravings, and signs of withdrawal (e.g., irritability, difficulty concentrating, or headaches). In July 2022, the University of Michigan National Poll on Healthy Aging asked a national sample of adults age 50–80 about symptoms of addiction to highly processed food and explored how these symptoms related to their physical and mental health and feelings of social isolation.

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January 31st, 2023 | Permalink

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