Junk Food as Addictive as Heroin and Tobacco

As a weight management practitioner of twenty years and a nutrition researcher I have become increasingly concerned about the volume of ‘junk food’ in the modern diet. I believe this is driving a wave of feeding addictions. Far too many of my clients tell me that they feel weak, experiencing a complete loss of control around highly palatable fatty and sugary foods. Many say the relationship with these products is totally controlling their lives and that they feel disempowered and unable to break free. Buying it is a compulsion, even though they know that it will lead to an inevitable gorging, followed by self-loathing and despair. This sounds remarkably like an addiction to me.

So what is junk food? Well, there is no internationally agreed descriptor, though I suspect most people would recognise the highly processed, fatty, salted, and sugar laden, nutritionally void products to which I refer (low micronutrient, high macronutrient). The processing removes much of the ‘live’ aspects of the food such as the polyunsaturated oils where the essential omega fats are. The aim is to preserve the product, as healthy polyunsaturated oils when exposed to the air turn rancid. When considering our diet we would do well to remember the old nutrition expression “good food goes bad”!

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