Sugar Junkies Out Themselves!

Sugar Addict

In the food area, the addiction that people most readily admit to is sugar. The easiest way to convince a person that food addiction is real is to challenge them to quit sugar for a month — in all forms, including high fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners. Here’s the catch: even someone who really, really wants to quit sweeteners, and is willing to try very hard, will almost certainly be unable to eliminate these substances from her or his diet, because they are everywhere. And they are addictive.

Jill Tieman explains some things about the relationship between the addictive personality and the “sweet tooth.” She says,

A report published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs in June, 2010 illustrated that many studies have shown that a high number of alcohol-dependent and other drug-dependent individuals have a sweet preference, especially for foods with a high sucrose concentration (refined white sugar). Additionally, human and animal studies have shown that in some brains, the consumption of sugar-rich foods or drinks precipitates the release of euphoric endorphins and dopamine (the feel good chemicals) within the nucleus accumbens, in a manner similar to the response to some recreational drugs.

Some obesity experts are reluctant to give very much credit to inherited characteristics as the reason behind obesity. It’s all too possible that people suffering from obesity will rationalize and insist that genetics makes choice impossible. And it’s too easy for people to kid themselves into believing they have glandular problems. Such a ready-made excuse can be a copout, and prevent a person from recognizing the real problem, which is addiction.

But what if it isn’t an either-or situation? Tieman also says something that hints at a complicated and multi-stage relationship between inherited characteristics and obesity:

In the last two decades research has noted that specific genes may underlie the sweet preference in alcohol- and drug-dependent individuals, as well as in biological children of paternal alcoholics.

So maybe it is genetic, in a roundabout way. If there are genes that make people susceptible to addiction to sugar and/or other substances, those genes would be indirectly responsible for the resulting food addiction. So if that turns out to be the case, the problem would be both genes and addiction. Just a thought…

Sugar junkies are an amazingly communicative and mutually supportive group of Netizens. Just Google “sugar addict support” and be amazed. Then Google “sugar addict quiz” and take your pick. Did you know there are four different types of sugar addiction? So says Joe Garma, who delineates them in great detail, as derived from the work of Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum. Briefly, they are “Energy Loan Shark,” “Feed Me Now or I’ll Kill You,” “Happy Ho-Ho Hunter,” and “Depressed and Craving Carbs.”

Jo Anne Kappel lays out the reality of sugar addiction in simple terms:

‘Hello, my name is {blank}, and I’m a food addict.’ Sound far-fetched? It may not be. A symposium aimed at deciphering the research surrounding food addiction found that consumption of certain foods (those high in sugar and fat) are more associated with ‘addictive behaviors’ than others.

Sugar leads to the release of dopamine in the brain; a chemical that produces euphoric feelings, and is also released after taking addictive drugs such as nicotine or heroin. Our taste buds can also be wired to crave fat, sweet and salt over time. So the more sugar, fat and salt we eat, the more we want it.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Your Brain on Fake Food,” Real Food Forager, 04/07/11
Source: “Sugar Lover? Which Type Are You?,”, 07/10
Source: “Food Addiction Research Why You Get A Sugar High,” FYI Living, 04/20/11
Image by ~Twon~ (Robert Anthony Provost), used under its Creative Commons license.

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About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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