A study published in the journal, PLOS ONE, states that people addicted to sugar must be treated in the same way as drug abusers. This has been suggested after the study revealed that drugs used to treat nicotine addiction could also be used to treat sugar addiction.
The study undertaken by researchers from Queensland University (QUT) compared the effects of sugar to those of cocaine and likened its symptoms of coming off it to going ‘cold turkey’. “The latest World Health Organisation figures tell us 1.9 billion people worldwide are overweight, with 600 million considered obese,” said Selena Bartlett from QUT in Australia. “Excess sugar consumption has been proven to contribute directly to weight gain. It has also been shown to repeatedly elevate dopamine levels which control the brains reward and pleasure centres in a way that is similar to many drugs of abuse including tobacco, cocaine and morphine,” Bartlett said.
Researchers said that after long-term consumption it leads to the opposite i.e. reduction in dopamine levels. Consequently, people tend to consume more sugar in order to get the same level of reward. It was also revealed that apart from increased risk of weight gain, animals with high sugar consumption and binge eating may face neurological and psychiatric consequences in adulthood, affecting mood and motivation. Finally it was found that the US FDA approved drugs such as varenicline – a medicine used to treat nicotine addiction, could treat someone with sugar craving.