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Is Cheese the New Crack? Study Finds Pizza as Addictive as Some Drugs

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Highly processed foods like pizza, cake and chocolate affect the body and b

Crack, cocaine, heroin … and pizza? You may have suspected your love of pizza is an addiction. Now a new study proves that’s true.

Conducted by University of Michigan psychologists Erica Schulte and Ashley Gearhardt, and neuroscientist Nicole Avena from the New York Obesity Research Center of Columbia University, the study found that “highly processed foods … may share characteristics with drugs of abuse (e.g., high dose, rapid rate of absorption) … [and] appear to be particularly associated with ‘food addiction.'”

The researchers ranked 35 different foods according to how problematic they are in terms of being addictive. Chocolate was number one, followed by ice cream, french fries, pizza and cookies. Cake, fried chicken, soda, cheese, pretzels and bacon were all in the top 20.

The researchers found that processed foods — which are generally higher in fat and glycemic load (a number that estimates how much a food will raise blood glucose level) than non-processed foods — are more frequently associated with eating behaviors that resemble addiction. The researchers note that consuming highly processed foods with high sugar and fat content signals similar changes to the neurological dopamine reward system as when drugs are being abused.

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