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Last Updated: Feb 14, 2023

Sugar - Why Is It So Addictive?

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Dt. Humera SuhailDietitian/Nutritionist • 28 Years Exp.Post Graduate Diploma in Dietetics
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Are you addicted to sugar and all sugary items? Have you tried cutting down your sugar intake, only to realize how tough, and sometimes impossible it is? These facts make it evident that something in your brain does not function normally, or in its usual way when it comes to sugar and sugary food items. This occurs because of several factors.

  1. Sugar addiction is caused by the overstimulation of your brain’s reward center
  2. Sugar is fattening in a unique way because of its high fructose content. There are various ways in which sugar causes you to overeat, leading to weight gain. The primary reason for developing an addiction to sugar is because of its impact on the brain’s reward center.
  3. When you eat sugary food, a large amount of dopamine gets released into the Nucleus Accumbens, which is a certain area of the brain. When you consume these food items frequently, the dopamine receptors become slow in regulating. As a result, the receptors for dopamine get lessened. This indicates that the next time you consume these specific food items, the effects of the receptors become blunt.
  4. For receiving the reward of the same level, you will be tempted into eating more sugary food. Sugar-rich food function quite similarly to drugs of abuse such as nicotine, cannabis, amphetamine and cocaine. Similar centers of the brain come into play in both these forms of addiction.
  5. People having some sort of predisposition towards addiction are likely to get more addicted to such sweet and sugary food items, having no control over consumption.

This is the way in which sugar hijacks your brain chemistry, making you crave for more and more sugar, and in turn, influences your behavior. 

In some people, certain anatomical changes in the brain take place, when frequently exposed to food rich in sugar. It ends up in full-fledged addiction in many people. According to the experiences of drug addicts who have been substance abusers for several years, the addiction to sugar and food rich in sugar content is exactly the same as any kind of drug addiction. There are no major differences, except that the substance of addiction and the consequences are totally different.

Several recovering drug addicts have stated that they crave for sugar, junk food, and any sweet food item in the same way they craved for alcohol and other drugs. This proves the level of addictive sugar, and it is recommended for everybody to abstain from consuming too much sugar.

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