Is Sugar Addictive?

Researchers from Princeton University have found that SUGAR is ADDICTIVE

The Research

Professor Bart Hoebel and his team in the Department of Psychology and the Princeton Neuroscience Institute have been studying signs of sugar addiction in rats for years. Until now, the rats under study have met two of the three elements of addiction.

They have demonstrated a behavioral pattern of increased intake and then showed signs of withdrawal.

His current experiments captured craving and relapse to complete the picture.

i love sugar

“If bingeing on sugar is really a form of addiction, there should be long-lasting effects in the brains of sugar addicts,” Hoebel said. “Craving and relapse are critical components of addiction, and we have been able to demonstrate these behaviors in sugar-bingeing rats in a number of ways.”

The Sad, Sad Story of Dr. Hoebel’s Sugar Addicted Lab Rats

As part of his experiment, Dr. Hoebel got a bunch of lab rats hooked on the white stuff. They would binge on that sweet powder like it was going out of style.

Then Dr. Hoebel would take away their sugar for a prolonged period of time….the bastard.

Then, like any good pusher, he returned with a brand new supply of that junk. And the rats went nuts. They consumed more sugar than they ever had before, suggesting craving and relapse behavior. Their motivation for sugar had grown.

“In this case, abstinence makes the heart grow fonder,” Hoebel said.

And it gets worse. He got them drunk.

The rats drank more alcohol than normal after their sugar supply was cut off, showing that the bingeing behavior had forged changes in brain function.

These functions served as “gateways” to other paths of destructive behavior, such as increased alcohol intake. And, after receiving a dose of amphetamine normally so minimal it has no effect, they became significantly hyperactive.

The increased sensitivity to the psychostimulant is a long-lasting brain effect that can be a component of addiction, Hoebel said.

Dr. Hoebel’s research has been submitted to the Journal of Nutrition for publication.

And the rats are serving time for the break and enters they committed in order to feed their addictions. Dr. Hoebel; I hope that you are proud of yourself.

But seriously, SUGAR is ADDICTIVE

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  1. I definitely feel “sugar sensitive,” if that’s a term — like a little can have an intense effect, and then once I have some, sometimes it’s like the floodgates are open and I lose any ability to feel satiated. When I’m eating normally I don’t even want the stuff, but I think there’s a threshold that (for me) once crossed, can become a slippery slope into sugar binges. (I’ll actually be eating things I don’t even want/like — I figure it has to do with insulin, etc.)

    I also have slightly out-of-whack hormone levels anyway, though (PCOS), so maybe that’s part of why I feel so affected by sugar.

  2. wow I just wrote about this on my blog yesterday. About how I had had a weekend on carbs and felt all the crazy addictive urges that I used to feel all the time when I eat carbs. There is absolutely something to this!!!!!!!!! Today, Im in withdrawal.

  3. There must be something in the air (or beer) ’cause I just did a piece on natural sugar substitutes. With Christmas on the way it’s good to get this info out there so at least people will know what to expect if they go over board on the stuff.
    Nice one.

  4. Hooray! At last someone said it! Wait til I tell my clients this on monday! Anytime I have ever had a client do anything sugar free it was almost impossible for them. Our own daily habits aside, it makes perfect sense that sugar is addictive. Now, if there is research to say it might make someone look and act like Amy Winehouse – well, lets just say that I might be investing in an underground bunker the day after that research gets published 😉

  5. Sugar Binge – That’s a very visual description of an all too common experience.

    Probably best to avoid letting the binge get started, because once those cravings get a head of steam, look out!

    On the upside, there has been some research lately about Cognitive behavior Therapy being very effective in combating eating disorders – anorexia, bulimia, binge eating.

  6. I don’t want to get my hopes up, but maybe, just maybe, the medical community may finally be coming around to the idea that a diet based on fast absorbing and calorie dense carbs/sugars is not the best diet for our health, or our waistlines.

    However, if the corn producers response to the recent backlash against HFCS is any indication, I don’t think that the processed food manufacturers are going to stand back and watch their market share diminish. Prepare for a bunch of studies showing the amazing health benefits of sugar and wheat flour and corn and soy and…

  7. I think anything that one gets used to might become and addiction? Great comments as well!

  8. Excellent article. I think I’ve also read somewhere that it is possible for a person to die from ingesting too much sugar. As for Amy Whinehouse, I think she may be addicted to another kind of white powdery stuff…

  9. Withdrawal symptoms and tolerance do not prove addiction. Everyone who takes increasing doses of a narcotic will develop both of those, but only some people will continue to seek drugs after the reason for the narcotic (absence of pain) is gone. One theory about this is that the brains of addict-prone people produce lesser amounts of neurotransmitters, such a dopamine. Some think that this problem can be inherited and it is true that children on alcoholics are more likely to become alcoholic even if raised away from the biological parent. I believe that there also twin studies that suggest this.

  10. Interesting, but I wouldn’t hang my hat on one study that has only been “submitted” for publication. If there are corroborating studies published in peer reviewed journals I would be more willing to share this information with others.

  11. sugar is addictive, i love my mountain dew, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. unlike a lot of other addictive substances which are quite dangerous, sugar doesn’t fuck up your body (assuming you’re not diabetic). you won’t get cancer, you won’t get head problems, your liver won’t go boom, you won’t get all skinny like amy whorehouse, and (if you brush regularly) you get to keep your teeth. and if you can’t get any (i’d be surprised though, it’s in everything) it’s usually nothing the average person over 4 can’t deal with. i’m going to 7-11, anybody want anything?

  12. how much does that take? probably a lot more than i take, as on my last checkup the doctor said i’m in normal health. does it come from downright gross amounts and/or a “lazy” lifestyle? that’s probably the person’s own fault. how much is “excess”?

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