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When is a Nacho Like Cocaine? Author of the Yale Food Addiction Scale Explains


"When we have applied the 11 diagnostic criteria typically used to diagnose an addiction to substances like alcohol, nicotine, or cocaine, to intake of highly processed foods, we see that pepole will endorse all 11 of those symptoms."

Food addiction researcher Ashley Gearhardt, PhD, explains that the classic symptoms of substance addiction, such as loss of control over intake, intense craving, interference with daily life, and even withdrawal, apply to consumption of foods created with high levels of refined carbohydrates and added fats.

In a recent conversation with Patient Care®, Gearhardt, an associate professor of psychology in the clinical science area at the University of Michigan, and developer of the Yale Food Addiction Scale, offered a short primer on the translation of addiction from familiar substances to food.

More from the Patient Care conversation with Drs Gearhardt and Kullgren:

Highly Processed Food is Produced to Be as Rewarding as Humanly Possible, Says Food Addiction Expert

One in 8 Older US Adults Meets Criteria for Food Addiction: Experts Explain

PCP Perspective: Should Primary Care Add Screening for Food Addiction to the To-Do List?

When is a Nacho Like Cocaine? Author of the Yale Food Addiction Scale Explains

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.

For more information:

Food and Addiction Science and Treatment Lab (Dr Gearhardt's lab)

The Yale Food Addiction Scale

The National Poll on Healthy Aging

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