Addiction Treatment

Do I Have a Fast Food Addiction?

Call 800-926-9037 to speak with an alcohol or drug abuse counselor. Who Answers?

Last updated: 10/25/2018
Author: Medical Review

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Most people know that fast food is not usually considered to be very healthy. Whether its a burger and fries or a taco or a pizza, everyone likes eating fast food once in a while as a treat. But have you ever begun to wonder if your consumption of fast food might be considered an addiction?

Is Fast Food Addictive?

Fast Food Addiction

If you can’t feel happy without fast food you may be addicted.

A few studies have been conducted about the addictiveness of fast food. A study from the NCBI has listed some of the qualities of fast food that lean strongly in favor of its addictiveness. They are:


“Fast food advertisements, restaurants and menus all provide environmental cues that may trigger addictive overeating.”


Fast food is considered to be “highly palatable food” which is usually the focus of food addiction studies.

Use of ingredients

Sugar is highly abundant in fast food meals, especially in the sodas, and studies have shown that rats do experience sugar addiction.


Obesity can often go hand-in-hand with psychological dependence on food and a person who experiences it often exhibits “altered reward and tolerance” in neuroimaging studies.

The study explains that “while the concept of fast food addiction remains to be proven, these findings support the role of fast food as a potentially addictive substance.” As there are many types of fast food, it is difficult to prove the existence of fast food addiction conclusively, but many signs point to the possibility of a person becoming addicted to one or many types of fast food.

Am I Addicted to Fast Food?

According to the NIDA, “addiction is a brain disease that affects multiple brain circuits, including those involved in reward and motivation, learning and memory, and inhibitory control over behavior.” An addiction to fast food can cause a response in a person that is similar to drug addiction. A person may find that he or she craves fast food and cannot focus on other things if it is not obtained. Here are some classic signs of addiction applied to fast food. See if they apply to you:

  • You eat fast food every day and feel that you must do so in order to feel good or be happy.
  • Other types of food don’t interest you, don’t taste good, etc.
  • You have spent an unnecessary amount of money on fast food, or you have spent money on fast food that was meant for other things.
  • You feel nauseous, sweaty, get migraines, or exhibit other signs of physical dependence when you go without eating fast food for longer than usual.
  • You have experienced severe health problems due to your consumption of fast food (obesity, heart attack, etc).

Addiction is complex, and a person often cannot just beat it by force of will alone. If the above descriptions are familiar to you, there is a good chance that you may be addicted to fast food. This addiction can cause you to become ill at the worst or at the least cause other problems that addictions often do such as arguments with friends and family over your consumption of fast food and a low self esteem. But addiction is not easy to fight alone. Consider seeking treatment for fast food addiction if it is making your life unbearable.

How Our Helpline Works

For those seeking addiction treatment for themselves or a loved one, the helpline is a private and convenient solution.

Calls to any general helpline (non-facility specific 1-8XX numbers) for your visit will be answered by American Addiction Centers (AAC).

We are standing by 24/7 to discuss your treatment options. Our representatives work solely for AAC and will discuss whether an AAC facility may be an option for you. Our helpline is offered at no cost to you and with no obligation to enter into treatment. Neither nor AAC receives any commission or other fee that is dependent upon which treatment provider a visitor may ultimately choose.

For more information on AAC’s commitment to ethical marketing and treatment practices, or to learn more about how to select a treatment provider, visit our About AAC page. If you wish to explore additional treatment options or connect with a specific rehab center, you can browse top-rated listings or visit SAMHSA.