According to a national poll, more than one in eight Americans in their middle and senior years have an ultra-processed food addiction.
It was shown that 13% of adults between the ages of 50 and 80 display symptoms of food addiction, such as bodily withdrawals, eating more than intended, and an inability to reduce their intake.
The short 13-question survey, which you can do yourself below, revealed that 44% of respondents had at least one of the symptoms listed.
Last year, experts claimed that junk food should be categorized as medicines since it is just as dangerous and addictive as cigarettes.
ARE YOU ADDICTED TO PROCESSED FOOD?
If you answer yes to at least two of the symptoms below, you could be addicted to highly processed foods.
*I have such strong urges to eat certain foods that I can’t think of anything else at least once a week.
*I have tried and failed to cut down on or stop eating certain foods two to three times in a week.
*My tolerance to food has increased so I do not feel as satisfied as I used to.
*I spend too much time obtaining and consuming junk food.
*I have given up time spent on recreational and occupational activities in pursuit of junk food.
*I overeat to the point that I cause emotional problems at least once a week.
*I have an inability to fulfill obligations at least once a month.
*I eat even when there is an increased risk of physical harm such as while driving at least once a month.
*I often feel tired or sluggish as a result of my overeating.
*I eat to the point where I feel physically ill at least once a week.
*I deal with withdrawal in response to abstinence or decreased use of ultraprocessed foods, such as headaches, fatigue, and irritability.
*My eating behavior causes me a lot of distress two to three times a week.
*I have significant problems at least twice a week in my life because of my eating, such as problems with my daily routine, work, school, family, or health.
Consuming a lot of food that has been heavily processed can have a number of detrimental health impacts that raise a person’s risk of developing serious conditions like obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
The new findings came from the University of Michigan’s most recent National Poll on Healthy Aging.
Along with two additional questions to gauge how much their lives had been impacted by their addiction, the questionnaire asked respondents to check off at least two of a list of 11 signs of food addiction.
Addiction to ultraprocessed foods including candies, salty snacks, sugary drinks, and fast food was more prevalent in women than in men.
Additionally, 8 percent of people 65 to 80 and 17 percent of persons 50 to 64 were found to have ultraprocessed food addictions, respectively.
32 percent and 14 percent, respectively, of men and women who believed themselves to be already in poor physical form showed indicators of addiction.
Additionally, 23 percent of males and 45 percent of women who report having fair or poor mental health had a junk food addiction.
That is three times as many people as those who report having excellent, very good, or decent mental health.
Additionally, 26 percent of men and more than half of women who reported feeling lonely had an addiction.
“The word addiction may seem strong when it comes to food, but research has shown that our brains respond as strongly to highly processed foods, especially those highest in sugar, simple starches, and fat, as they do to tobacco, alcohol, and other addictive substances,” said Dr. Ashley Gearhardt, a psychologist at the University of Michigan.
The Yale Food Addiction Scale, a questionnaire utilized in the study, was co-developed by Dr. Gearhardt with researchers at Yale University.
As with drinking or smoking, she continued, “we need to identify and reach out to those who have gotten into dangerous patterns of use and support them in building a healthier relationship with food.”
The most prevalent symptom was intense cravings, with almost one in four people reporting that at least once per week, they felt a need for junk food so intense that they were unable to resist it. And 19% admitted that they attempted and failed at least twice a week to cut back on or give up certain foods.
Obesity, which has become a serious public health concern in America, is greatly increased by a tendency toward highly processed meals.
Since decades, the percentage of obese Americans has been rising, and four out of ten are now considered medically obese.
‘Clinicians need a better understanding of how food addiction and problematic eating intertwines with their patients’ physical and mental health, including chronic conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer,’ said poll’s director Dr. Jeffrey Kullgren, an associate professor of internal medicine at Michigan Medicine.
“We need to realize that cravings and eating habits are entrenched in brain chemistry and heredity, and that certain people may need additional support, just as they would for quitting drinking or smoking,” the author writes.