Everyone knows modern humans take in many times the amount of sugar they actually need. Now, one recent study out of Britain suggests this could be far more harmful than adding a few extra pounds to the waist.
Published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, the study compiles multiple sets of findings from animal-testing data on the effects of sugar. It makes the argument that “[c]onsuming sugar produces effects similar to that of cocaine, altering mood, possibly through its ability to induce reward and pleasure, leading to the seeking out of sugar.”
Researchers say they believe the evidence is mounting to the point they can be more confident in the parallels drawn between sugar and hyper-addictive illegal drugs.
It was common knowledge sugar makes you jittery and produces small-scale highs and crashes, but the argument put forth in the study claims the effects extend even deeper: After experiencing the high and crash, they will actively seek out sugar in pursuit of the same high again.
“Animal data has shown significant overlap between the consumption of added sugars and drug-like effects, including bingeing, craving, tolerance, withdrawal, cross-sensitization, cross-tolerance, cross-dependence, reward, and opioid-effects.”
However, some scientists are calling for these researchers to pump the brakes.
Tom Sanders, emeritus professor of nutrition and dietetics at King’s College London, called the conclusion “absurd” in speaking with The Guardian.
“While it is true that a liking for sweet things can be habit-forming, it is not addictive like opiates or cocaine. Individuals do not get withdrawal symptoms when they cut sugar intake.”
At the very least, excuses to not cut one’s sugar intake, at least a little bit, are running out.
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