"People don't seem to really lose control of foods that are naturally sweet, like fruit, or high in natural fats, like salmon, in quite the same way that they do with the foods that are manmade, engineered, and often industrially produced to be as rewarding as humanly possible."
Most people, said Ashley Gearhardt, PhD, associate professor of psychology in the clinical science area at the University of Michigan, aren't triggered to overeat foods that don't contain rapidly absorbed refined carbohydrates and fats. It's the "highly processed" foods that, for some people, seem to have a reward effect in the brain that is comparable to that seen with alcohol or nicotine.
Gearhardt, the developer of the Yale Food Addiction Scale, and lead investigator of a new study on addictive eating behavior in adults aged 50 to 80 years, spoke with Patient Care® about the definition of highly processed foods and the particular dangers of addictive food behaviors in the older adult population.
Gearhardt's lab at the University of Michigan (U-M) teamed with the National Poll on Healthy Aging, based at the U-M Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation and under the direction of Jeffery Kullgren, MD, MS, MPH, to look more closely at a population rarely included in research on food addiction. The National Poll on Healthy Aging (NPHA) surveys are fielded twice per year using a sample of approximately 2,000 respondents aged 50 to 80 years drawn from a nationally representative probability-based panel of U.S. households. The NPHA is supported by AARP and Michigan Medicine, U-M's academic medical center, in Ann Arbor.
Food and Addiction Science and Treatment Lab (Dr Gearhardt's lab)
The National Poll on Healthy Aging