Press Release

Overhyped “Study” that Claims Americans are Hooked on Food Lacks Substance

Today the nonprofit Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF) criticized a new “study” from Connecticut College undergraduates that found rats have a similar neurological reaction to eating Oreos as they do taking cocaine or morphine.

Food addiction claims, while currently popular with public health zealots, are completely bunk. Cambridge University researchers recently re-issued a warning not to regard “food addiction” as the cause of obesity, noting they found “no conclusive evidence” of food withdrawal and little reason to equate food and narcotics. One pro-food-addiction researcher recently conceded that “nobody claims that food has [as] strong of an effect” as addictive drugs on the brain.

“The students are correct to note that when people or even rats eat foods they enjoy, their brains release dopamine and other neurotransmitters that make them feel good. But Oreos, music, vigorous exercise, and sex — all things that ‘light up our brain’ in a similar manner — aren’t drugs,” said J. Justin Wilson, CCF’s Senior Research Analyst. “You don’t see anyone holding up a convenience store to feed their deep addiction to Snickers bars.”

If claims that Americans are all sugar-addicted zombies held any weight, we would be seeing an unprecedented rise in sugar intake. However, the latest studies show this is far from the truth. A recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that Americans are eating 3.5 percent fewer calories from added sugar today than they were in 2000, and have cut their sugar intake by six teaspoons per day. Similarly, the number of calories from sugar-sweetened beverages has declined. Those are voluntary changes that ordinary people have made on their own without 12-step programs.

“Before we start sounding the alarms and pulling Oreos off the shelf, it’s best to note this ‘study’ is the unpublished abstract of not-yet-peer-reviewed research that has yet to even be presented for scrutiny,” continued Wilson. “Obesity is a complicated issue that won’t be solved by making those who are overweight out to be powerless victims, unable to kick the habit. Americans have always known the difference between a banana and a banana split.”

Founded in 1996, the Center for Consumer Freedom is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization devoted to promoting personal responsibility and protecting consumer choices. For more information, visit


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