Sugar is not an addictive substance: masterpost

There's so much nonsense doing the rounds about how "sugar is addictive just like illegal drugs are addictive", usually coming from LCHF cultists. So here's a masterpost of all the information to put that myth to rest once and for all.

Also though; here's my collection of reviews of That Sugar Film, in case you missed it: That Sugar Film: Link Dump

Update: September 2018

Here's a great new article; Is Sugar Really Bad For You, by Jessica Brown via BBC Future. It's wonderful to see such good and factual content on a major platform for once.

You'll find much of the supporting evidence for the facts laid out in this article, below.

Studies on sugar addition, food addiction and eating addiction:

The plausibility of sugar addiction and its role in obesity and eating disorders.

  • The [above] predications have in common that on no occasion was the behaviour predicted by an animal model of sucrose addiction supported by human studies.
  • There is no support from the human literature for the hypothesis that sucrose may be physically addictive or that addiction to sugar plays a role in eating disorders.


The mesolimbic system and eating addiction: what sugar does and does not do. 
  • Sucrose is reinforcing and it promotes dopamine release independent of its taste.
  • Drugs and sucrose have strong yet transient effects on the mesolimbic system.
  • Addictive drugs severely disrupt brain plasticity after long-term exposure.
  • No data currently suggest similar central adaptations following sucrose.


Eating is addictive but sugar and fat are not like drugs, study says.
  • People can become addicted to eating for its own sake but not to consuming specific foods such as those high in sugar or fat, research suggests.
  • An international team of scientists has found no strong evidence for people being addicted to the chemical substances in certain foods.
  • The brain does not respond to nutrients in the same way as it does to addictive drugs such as heroin or cocaine, the researchers say. 


“Eating addiction”, rather than “food addiction”, better captures addictive-like eating behavior.
  • “Eating addiction” describes a behavioral addiction.
  • An “eating addiction” is not necessarily associated with obesity.
  •  Consider “eating addiction” as a disorder in DSM-5 “Non-Substance-Related Disorders”.

Sugar addiction: the state of the science

  • Given the lack of evidence supporting it, we argue against a premature incorporation of sugar addiction into the scientific literature and public policy recommendations. 

Eating dependence and weight gain; no human evidence for a 'sugar-addiction' model of overweight.

  • The current findings indicate that sugary foods contribute minimally to 'food dependence' and increased risk of weight gain. 

See also...

Sugars and Health Controversies: What Does the Science Say?
We conclude that added sugars consumed in the normal forms in which humans consume them, at amounts typical of the human diet and for the time period studied in randomized controlled trials, do not result in adverse health consequences. Although more research trials are needed in many areas of sugar consumption and health, there is little scientific justification for recommending restricting sugar consumption below the reasonable upper limit recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010 of no more than 25% of calories. 

 Bonus Content:
 Even More: Do people need to "quit sugar" to lose weight?

Bonus Content: Studies on the effects of restricting food choices. 


Selective carbohydrate or protein restriction: effects on subsequent food intake and cravings.

  • The results indicated that selective food restriction resulted in selective behavioural consequences.
  • Specifically, carbohydrate-restricted participants consumed more of a high-carbohydrate food than did controls or protein-restrictors, in addition to reporting more cravings for high-carbohydrate foods over the restriction period.
  • Overall, selective food restriction is demonstrated to have negative psychological and behavioural consequences. 

Even more:

Restricting Your Children's Chocolate Could Do More Harm Than Good.
"In terms of parenting practice, the results indicate that in the short term, restricting 'bad' foods is an effective means to promote healthier eating habits. But by restricting access you may encourage a preoccupation with unhealthy foods which in the long term could encourage the very behaviour you are trying to prevent," explains Professor Ogden.
 And finally:


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