Skip to main content

‘Sugary food is a drug for me': A growing number of children are addicted to ultraprocessed foods

·1 min

Chicago native Jeffrey Odwazny, age 54, says he has been addicted to ultraprocessed food since childhood. Some research shows that 12% of children and adolescents in the United States struggle with a similar food addiction. The addiction to ultraprocessed foods can disrupt the brain’s reward circuitry and lead to intense cravings, sneaking, and overeating. About 14% of adults are clinically addicted to food, primarily ultraprocessed foods that are high in sugar, salt, fat, and additives. The addictive properties of ultraprocessed foods can override rational decision-making. Many experts believe that the manufacturing methods and composition of ultraprocessed foods contribute to their addictive nature. Overcoming food addiction can be challenging and often requires specialized treatment.