This Is Your Brain on Junk Food: In ‘Hooked,’ Michael Moss Explores Addiction

But no drug can set fire to the Reward circuitry in our minds as fast as our favorite foods, writes Mr. Moss. He wrote, “The smoke emanating from the cigarette takes 10 seconds to stir the brain, but one touch on the tongue will make the sperm in half or more than six hundred milliseconds.” “It’s about 20 times faster than cigarettes.”

This puts the word “fast food” in a new light. He said, “The power of intoxication, measured in milliseconds, is no faster than processed food in rubbing the brain.”

Mr. Moss points out that even in the tobacco industry, people used to pay attention to the powerful attraction of processed foods. In the 1980s, Philip Morris acquired Kraft and General Foods, making it the largest producer of processed foods in the country with products such as Cool-Aid, Cocoa Pebbles, Capri Sun and Orio Cookies. But the company’s former general manager and vice president, Steven C. Parish admitted that he found it troubling that it was easier for him to give up the company’s cigarettes than his chocolate cookies. “I’m dangerous around a bag of chips or Doritos or Oreos,” he told Mr. Moss. “I also want to avoid opening a bag of Oreos because instead of eating one or two, I will eat half a bag.”

Due to litigation against tobacco companies in the 1990s, one of the industry’s defenses was that cigarettes were no more addictive than twinkies. Maybe it is on something. Philip Morris regularly surveys the public to gather legal and marketing intelligence, Mr. Moss writes, and a special survey in 1988 asked people to name things they felt were addictive. And then rate them on a scale of 1 to 10, which consists of 10. Most addictive.

“Moss writes,” was smoked with heroin at about 8.5. “But over 7.3, scoring higher than beer, tranquilizer and sleeping pills, was not far behind. This figure was used to argue the company that cigarettes should not be innocent, but they were vice-like and manageable on orders of potato chips. “

But processed foods are not tobacco, and many people, including some experts, reject the notion that they are addictive. Mr. Moss suggests that this reluctance is a result of misconceptions about an addiction. For one, one does not have to hook a substance to be intoxicated. Studies show that most people who drink or use cocaine are not dependent. Nor does everyone who takes painkillers get intoxicated. It is also the case that the symptoms of addiction can vary from one person to another and from one drug to another. Painful withdrawal was once considered to be an identity of intoxication. But some drugs that we know as intoxicants, such as cocaine, will fail to meet that definition because they do not provoke “body-harming havoc” that back off barbiturates and other addictive drugs Can take.

American Psychiatric Association Now lists 11 criteria It is used to diagnose what it calls a substance use disorder, which can range from mild to severe, depending on how many symptoms a person exhibits. One of those symptoms are cravings, an inability to cut back despite, and continue to use the substance despite the damage. Mr. Moss said that people who struggle with processed food can make simple strategies to win routine craving, such as going for a walk, calling a friend or snacking on healthy options like a handful of nuts. But for some people, more extreme measures may be necessary.

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