Addictive Foods? Watch Out for Chocolate Ice Cream; Stick to Beans and Broccoli

Friday, October 30, 2015
(photo: Getty Images)

The results of this study should surprise very few people: Chocolate and ice cream are more addictive than vegetables.


In a two-part study, researchers Erica M. Schulte, Nicole M. Avena, and Ashley N. Gearhardt at the National Center for Biotechnology Information first asked subjects to rate foods based on their addictive potential. They then studied what characteristics those foods shared, such as fat grams per serving. The researchers then came up with a numerical value of the food being “problematic.”


Processed foods were almost all considered worse on the scale than unprocessed ones, according to the study. As might be guessed, chocolate led the list, followed by ice cream, French fries and pizza. The least addictive food is beans with no sauce, followed by broccoli, cucumbers, water and brown rice.


The foods’ addictive potential can be affected by how fast it’s absorbed into the body. “For example, the sugar in a highly processed, high GL (glycemic load) food, such as a milk chocolate bar, will be more quickly absorbed into the system than the natural sugars in a banana (low GL),” according to the report.


The researchers concluded “foods with high GL were especially related to addictive-like eating problems for individuals endorsing elevated symptoms of ‘food addiction.’ Individuals endorsing symptoms of addictive-like eating behavior may be more susceptible to the large blood sugar spike of high GL foods, which is consistent with the importance of dose and rate of absorption in the addictive potential of drugs of abuse.”

-Steve Straehley


To Learn More:

Which Foods May Be Addictive? The Roles of Processing, Fat Content, and Glycemic Load (by Erica M. Schulte, Nicole M. Avena, and Ashley N. Gearhardt, National Center for Biotechnology Information)

Average Frequency Count of How Often a Food was Selected as Problematic (PLoS One)

Nutritional Value of Fast Food Has Hardly Increased in 14 Years (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Billion-Dollar Taxpayer Subsidies for Junk Food Junkies (by Noel Brinkerhoff and Vicki Baker, AllGov)

Can of Del Monte Green Beans Sets Toxic BPA Record (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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