Last updated: 10/25/2018
Author: Addictions.com 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?
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.