Post by Eliza Barclay, The Salt at NPR Food (1/16/14)
Last week, I reported that scientists are working their way toward a consensus that sugar is addictive. While some researchers are still hesitant to liken sweet stuff to drugs or alcohol, the evidence is accumulating to explain why some of us really struggle to resist or moderate our sugar intake. (I count myself among them.)
I mentioned a new book called Why Diets Fail by Nicole Avena, a neuroscientist and research psychologist at Columbia University who has done a lot of work in this area. She's particularly interested in the neurotransmitters and brain receptors involved in eating. In lab experiments with rats, she's shown how overeating tasty foods (like sugar) can produce changes in the brain and behavior that resemble addiction.
Avena has also just put out a clever TED-Ed video with colorful visuals to help explain the details of just why sugar makes our brains go bonkers.