Recent Research Reveals Sugar More Addictive than Cocaine

Hi everyone, Kimberly Krueger, here In a recent issue of the Los Angeles Times, there was an article about the addictive nature of sugar. I think the research findings are important and fascinating, so I’m going to share it with you.

Researchers have learned that rats overwhelmingly prefer water sweetened with saccharin to cocaine, a finding that demonstrates the addictive potential of sweets.

Offering larger doses of cocaine did not alter the rats’ preference for saccharin, according to the report.

Scientists said the study, presented this week in San Diego at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, might help explain the rise in human obesity, which has been driven in part by an over consumption of sugary foods.

In the experiment, 43 rats were placed in cages with two levers, one of which delivered an intravenous dose of cocaine and the other a sip of highly sweetened water. At the end of the 15-day trial, 40 of the rats consistently chose saccharin instead of water.

When sugar water was substituted for the saccharin solution the results were the same, researchers said.

Further testing subjected 24 cocaine-addicted rats to a similar trial. At the end of 10 days, the majority of them preferred saccharin.

“Intense sweetness is more rewarding to the rats than cocaine,” said coauthor Magalie Lenoir of the University of Bordeaux in France. “Excess sugar could increase levels of the brain chemical dopamine, leading to a craving for sweets,” she said.

Lenoir said mammalian taste receptors evolved in an environment that lacked sugar and so were not adapted to the high concentrations of sweets found in the modern diet. Cocaine also increases dopamine, but through a different brain mechanism.

So, there we have it folks, the research is in: eating sugar causes cravings for more sugar.  *Tiffany Brown, MS, LPCA-A coordinator of the Weight A Second weight management program at Southlake Center suggests the following tips to decrease sugar cravings:

      1.    Frequent Meals. Eating meals at regular intervals will prevent drops in blood sugar that trigger cravings.

      2.   Eat Whole Foods. Fruits and vegetables, legumes, nuts, and whole grains contain some naturally occurring sugars, but they also offer dietary fiber and important nutrients to help balance blood sugar.

      3.   The More Natural, The Better. Choose an orange, rather than orange juice. Not only will you get less sugar, but you’ll also benefit from more nutrients.

      4.   Beware Of Fat-Free Labels. These foods actually contribute to health and weight problems. What the labels don’t tell you is that these products contain more sugar – sometimes two or more times that found in the “regular” versions.

      5.   Assess.  Are you actually just thirsty, or sleepy?  Oftentimes sugar cravings are just misread signals for other needs.

Hope these suggestions help.  And if you would like to know more about saying No to Diets and Yes to life, be sure to contact us at Southlake and we’ll get you started right away.

Be well,


*Tiffany Brown, MS, LPCA-A is certified through ACE as a personal trainer and group instructor.  She is also certified through the NCBDN as a weight loss/nutrition instructor. Tiffany is provisionally licensed by the NC Board of Licensed Professional Counselors.  She is Southlake’s newest team member and is coordinator for Southlake’s Weight A Second Weight Management Program.

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