Ever had those late-night junk food cravings? Most of us have, at some point or another, and a recent study has shown that it's not entirely our fault – the most addictive foods seem to trigger the 'reward centers' of our brains.
A team of researchers from the University of Michigan in the USA have created a list of the most addictive foods. Pizza came in at number one, but that didn't surprise us at all!
The two-part study surveyed 120 undergraduate students in one experiment, and conducted a questionnaire among 384 participants in the other. Participants in the first study, all between the ages of 18 and 23, were first shown the Yale Food Addiction Scale (YFAS) - a measure that has been developed to identify markers of substance dependence with the consumption of high fat/high sugar foods. The scale is based on standard criteria for substance dependence.
The participants were then presented with food pictures and asked to choose which of the two they were more likely to experience 'problems' with, as described by the YFAS. The 'problems' they are referring to include eating more of a food than they intended to, being unable to quit a food, giving up important activities, or showing an increased tolerance for a food.
The study showed that of the 35 food options, those that have been processed and contain more fat and a higher glycemic load are mostly associated with addictive-like eating behaviours.
For the second study, instead of choosing between two food pictures, the participants, aged 18 to 64, were asked to rate each of the 35 foods from one to seven, with seven being “extremely problematic”. These highly processed foods may be more likely to trigger addictive-like biological and behavioural responses due to their unnaturally high levels of 'reward'.
Even though the results varied slightly between the two parts of the study, pizza, chocolate, cookies, and ice cream placed in the top five on both lists.
Here are the Top 20 most addictive foods according to the study: