Can You Really Get “Addicted” to Ice Cream? New Study Suggests Yes
Dr. Kyle Burger and his colleagues studied more than 150 teenagers between the ages of 14 and 16 years old. The young people consumed milkshakes while their brains were being scanned with magnetic resonance imaging technology. Each participant was also interviewed about their eating habits and craving for sugary foods.
Dr. Burger's team found that the human brain can respond to the pleasure from ice cream in the same way it responds to addictive drugs like cocaine. While all the participants in the study, wanted more ice cream, the ones who ate the most enjoyed it the least. Over-eating the ice cream downgraded the mental reward, Dr. Burger explained. He said that the results of this study also supported the idea that certain individuals may be more susceptible to addiction than others, perhaps for hereditary reasons.
"The down regulation pattern is seen with frequent drug use in that the more an individual uses the drug the less reward he receives for using it," he said. "You could be continually trying to match the earlier experience. This would lead to bigger portion and weight gain. While it is unlikely that people become addicted to ice cream per se, the findings appear to suggest that ice cream has an addictive quality. Some individuals may frequently eat ice cream or other high-fat/high sugar foods and show no characteristics of addiction, while others may develop an relationship with food."
The study appears in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition.