Caroline Gerdes
February 26, 2015 11:04 am

Whether it’s inhaling a sleeve of Oreos or stealing your friend’s French fries after ordering salad, at one point or another, you’ve probably felt a force come over you, driving you to eat certain foods. But, don’t worry, it’s not you, it’s science.

According to a Science.Mic story, “new research published in PlosOne suggests that highly processed foods like pizza, chocolate and ice cream (all the good stuff) might truly have some of us hooked.”

The study was conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan who measured addictive food behavior in 120 undergraduates, using a version of the Yale Food Addiction Scale.

Participants were shown two pictures of foods and were asked to pick the “problem food.” The foods, of varying nutritional value, were chosen from a list of 35 food items and then ranked by researchers based on perceived associations.

“In total, 18 of the foods were highly processed products like cake, chocolate and chips. The other 17 were items like bananas, carrots or nuts, which were considered unprocessed,” the Mic article states.

While only 7 percent of participants met the full criteria for food addiction, 92 percent “reported having a desire to quit but being unable to do so.” Ninety-two percent!

Here were the top 10 problem foods from the study

  1. Pizza
  2. Chocolate
  3. Chips
  4. Cookie
  5. Ice Cream
  6. French Fries
  7. Cheeseburger
  8. Soda (not diet)
  9. Cake
  10. Cheese

Everyone who has mindlessly wandered back to the kitchen for seconds of pizza or eaten the entire box of Valentine’s chocolate by stroke of midnight February 15, may be letting out a resounding, “Duh.” But this information can help us all learn more about food addiction.

According to The Huffington Post’s write-up about the study, food addiction is not an officially recognized addiction. The article states, “The closest thing to it in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) is binge eating disorder.”

But Dr. Nicole Avena, of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and author of the PlosOne study, has been researching food addiction for more than 15 years. She said this was the first clinical study to assess the connection between how people eat certain foods and how processed, fatty or full of sugar the product they eat are.

For the full list of foods from the study, visit.

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