The 7 Signs of Sugar Addiction: Part 1

One of the sneaky issues with sugar addiction is that it’s added to so many of our foods, including the ones that are marketed as “healthy.” Credit: Bert K

The Signs of Sugar Addiction

Now let’s apply that to sugar addiction. Does anyone ever experience three or more of these for sugar?

Increased Tolerance. You know how some people need two packets of sugar to make something sweet, while someone else may only need half a packet? As we get used to sugars our tastes change, and we tend to want sweeter and sweeter things.

Withdrawal. Ever tried to give up sugar? If so, how did that feel? If not, give it a whirl and you will experience how deeply this substance affects your brain.

Over Use. Are we consuming more sugar today than we have historically? As University of Washington’s Stephan Guyenet tells us, “In 1822, we consumed the amount of sugar in one 12-ounce can of cola every five days. Today we consume that same amount every seven hours.”

Loss of Control. Again, ever tried to give up sugar? If it’s not something we can easily “switch off,” we may no longer be in control.

Exceptional Effort to Obtain. Ever waited in line for way too long or gone way out of your way to obtain a sweet treat?

Over Prioritization. Ever been late to an appointment or meeting so that you could get your hands on something sweet?

Ignoring Negative Consequences. Sugar is to obesity as smoking is to lung cancer. Obesity has been linked to at least:

  • Depression
  • Discrimination
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Birth Defects
  • Breast Cancer
  • Cancer of the Esophagus
  • Colorectal Cancer
  • Renal Cell Cancer
  • Cardiovascular Disease
  • Impaired Respiratory Function
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Chronic Venous Insufficiency
  • Daytime Sleepiness
  • Deep Vein Thrombosis
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Gallbladder Disease
  • Gout
  • Heart Disorders
  • Hypertension
  • Impaired Immune Response
  • Infections
  • Infertility
  • Liver Disease
  • Low Back Pain
  • Obstetric and Gynecologic Complications
  • Chronic Pain
  • Pancreatitis
  • Sleep Apnea
  • Stroke
  • Surgical Complications
  • Urinary Stress Incontinence

Given the horrible negative consequences of excess body fat, could overindulgence in sweet treats be one of the world’s best examples of ignoring negative consequences?


  1. Dr. Pam Peeke, MD says

    There are no ifs ands or buts on the subject of food addiction: it is as real as cocaine or alcohol addiction and, in fact, affects exactly the same pleasure/impulse control centers of the brain as recognized drugs. This is especially true of what David Kessler calls hyperpalatable foods — foods dense in calories from sugar/fat/salt. Oxford University Press has just published the medical textbook on the subject: Food and Addiction: A Comprehensive Handbook, edited by Kelly D. Brownwell & Mark S. Gold. And I’ve just published the first holistic approach to food addiction, The Hunger Fix, which is based on that cutting edge science.

    Substance abuse researchers say that the brain adaptions that result from regularly eating these foods, which are proven to increase consumption, are likely to be more difficult to change than those from cocaine or alcohol because they involve many more neural pathways. Almost 90 percent of the dopamine receptors in the vental tegmental area (VTA) of the brain are activated in response to food cues.

    Brand-new research also shows direct evidence of lasting and fundamental injuries to a part of the brain that helps us regulate our food intake, the hypothalamic arcuate nucleus. Within three days of being placed on a high-fat diet, a rat’s hypothalamus (the area of the brain that responds to the hormones that signal hunger and satiety, pair and maternal bonding and certain social behavior) shows increased inflammation; within a week, researchers see evidence of permanent scarring and neuron injury in an area of the brain crucial for weight control. Brain scans of obese men and women show this exact pattern as well.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *