As an adult, you don’t need to be told that the salty deliciousness in a bag of chips is addictive, because you know the deep-seated despair it created that one time (or, you know, the last time) you ate the whole bag. But your kid lacks your iron will and perfectly-honed self control, and you naturally want to shield them from food they’re likely to get hooked on, so where should you start? According to researchers at the University Of Michigan, the answer is pizza.
Writing in the journal PLOS ONE, researchers revealed the results of a study in which 384 participants were asked to rank 35 different kinds of food, based on which ones they were most likely to binge on. While the list included everything from “cookie” (in the singular, thus indicating that Cookie Monster was likely a consultant) to carrots, the results clearly indicate that addictive qualities in food correlates strongly with the kinds of processing associated with junk food. That’s because highly processed food concentrates fats and refined carbs like white flour and sugar in a way similar to how processing coca leaves concentrates the stuff that makes you feel good when you do cocaine. And just like cocaine refines the delivery mechanism, highly processed foods streamline the delivery of dopamine-releasing flavors and chemicals in a way natural food can’t. Put another way, an apple is delicious, but all that fiber, protein, and water slows the release of the sugar into your system. An apple donut does away with all the good stuff in order to get your body the good stuff (read that last bit with a sketchy drug dealer accent).
While pizza ranked highest on the respondents’ list of binge-worthy foods, the rest of the top 10 is a murderer’s row of a birthday menu: chocolate, chips, cookie, ice cream, french fries, cheeseburger, soda, cake, and cheese (which, incidentally, is the first non-processed food to appear on the list). So, if you want to steer your kid toward foods that they’re less likely to attack the way you attacked that aforementioned bag of chips, focus on the bottom 9: strawberries, corn, salmon, banana, broccoli, brown rice, apple, beans, carrots, and cucumbers. And … yeah. Good luck with that.
[H/T] IFL Science