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In “Hooked,” Michael Moss explores the power of unhealthy food addiction

But no addictive drug can speed up our brain’s reward systems as fast as our favorite foods, writes Mr. Moss. “Cigarette smoke takes 10 seconds to stimulate the brain, but a touch of sugar on the tongue will take a little over half a second, or six hundred milliseconds, to be exact,” he wrote. “It’s almost 20 times faster than cigarettes.”

This brings to light the term “fast food”. “Having the power of dependence measured in milliseconds, things are not faster than processed food in waking the brain,” he added.

Mr. Moss explains that even people in the tobacco industry noticed a strong temptation for processed foods. In the 1980s, Philip Morris acquired Kraft և General Foods, making it the largest producer of processed foods in the country, with products such as Kool-Aid, Cocoa Pebbles, Capri Sun և Oreo cookies. But the company’s former chief adviser, Vice President Steven S. Paris said she was concerned about the fact that it was easier for her to quit smoking than her chocolate chip cookies. “I’m dangerous about a box of chips or Doritos or Oreos,” he told Mr. Moss. “I would even avoid opening an Oreos bag, because instead of eating one or two, I ate half a bag.”

When litigation against tobacco companies began in the 1990s, one of the industry’s defenses was that tobacco became more addictive than the Twinkies. Maybe it happened to something. Philip Morris regularly asked the public for legal “marketing intelligence,” writes Mr. Moss. On a scale of 1 to 10, and 10 on the most addictive

“Sm gave 8.5, almost equal to the level of heroin,” wrote Mr. Moss. “But eating too much, around 7.3, did not lag behind, scoring higher points than beer, sedatives and sleeping pills. “These statistics were used to support the company’s argument that cigarettes may be innocent, but they were vice-presidents by order of potato chips. As such, they were manageable.”

But processed foods are not tobacco, and many people, including some experts, give up addiction. Mr. Moss suggests that this reluctance is due in part to misconceptions about addiction. For one thing, the material does not have to catch everyone in order to be addictive. Studies show that most people who drink or use cocaine are not addicted. Not everyone is addicted to smoking or painkillers. It happens that the symptoms of addiction can vary from one drug to another. Ful avot removals were once considered addictive. But some of the drugs we know to be addictive, such as cocaine, would not fit that definition because they do not cause “catastrophic destruction” of the body, which can cause barbiturates or other addictive drugs.

The American Psychiatric Association now lists 11 criteria used to diagnose substance use disorder, which can range from mild to severe, depending on how many symptoms a person has. One of these symptoms is the desire, despite the inability to reduce the desire և to continue using the substance despite causing harm. Mr Moss said people who struggle with processed foods can try simple strategies to overcome common desires, such as walking, calling a friend or breaking down healthy alternatives, like a handful of nuts. But for some people, more extreme measures may be needed.


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