Treating Sugar Addiction Like Drug Abuse

sugar addiction treated like drug addictionWith obesity rates on the rise worldwide and excess sugar consumption considered a direct contributor, the search has been on for treatments to reverse the trend. Now a world-first study led by QUT (Queensland University of Technology) may have the answer.

Neuroscientist Professor Selena Bartlett from QUT’s Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation said drugs used to treat nicotine addiction could be used to treat sugar addiction in animals.

The publication coincides with another paper by the team showing that long chronic sugar intake can cause eating disorders and impact on behavior.

“Excess sugar consumption has been proven to contribute directly to weight gain. It has also been shown to repeatedly elevate dopamine levels which control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers in a way that is similar to many drugs of abuse including tobacco, cocaine and morphine.

“After long-term consumption, this leads to the opposite, a reduction in dopamine levels. This leads to higher consumption of sugar to get the same level of reward.

“We have also found that as well as an increased risk of weight gain, animals that maintain high sugar consumption and binge eating into adulthood may also face neurological and psychiatric consequences affecting mood and motivation.

“Our study found that Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved drugs like varenicline, a prescription medication trading as Champix which treats nicotine addiction, can work the same way when it comes to sugar cravings.”

PhD researcher Masroor Shariff said the study also put artificial sweeteners under the spotlight.

“Interestingly, our study also found that artificial sweeteners such as saccharin could produce effects similar to those we obtained with table sugar, highlighting the importance of reevaluating our relationship with sweetened food per se,” said Mr Shariff.

“Like other drugs of abuse, withdrawal from chronic sucrose exposure can result in an imbalance in dopamine levels and be as difficult as going ‘cold turkey’ from them,” she said.

“Further studies are required but our results do suggest that current FDA-approved nAChR drugs may represent a novel new treatment strategy to tackle the obesity epidemic.”

David Says:

This type of research is interesting to me in that it continues to validate the addiction of sugar and/or other once-thought-benign chemicals but beyond the validation? I think it’s foolish to think people can stay eating powdered donuts and take a drug to help them break the addiction.

Fake-food/Frankenfood addiction is real. The research continues to mount. Some would have us believe that “food” addiction is VERY different from alcohol or nicotine addiction since we need “food” to live but we don’t need alcohol or nicotine. All these ignoramouses need to do is get a clue about what FOOD is. We aren’t addicted to FOOD if we are addicted. We are addicted to food-like substances, which we also refer to as Frankenfood. Real food is single ingredient or a Grandmother multiple (all ingredients are those your Great Grandmother might have had in her kitchen). Everything else is a food-like substance, a Frankenfood. How do you treat addiction to these products? Same as you do other addictive drugs – abstinence, full-blown steps of recovery, 12 steps, self-help, you name it. While you are abstaining MAYBE a drug will also help but it’d only work if you apply it WHILE you are abstaining and in recovery.

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The above post is reprinted from materials provided by Science Daily. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

The full Neuronal Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptor Modulators Reduce Sugar Intake paper can be read on PLOS ONE.