Every year millions of Americans try to cut down on ultra-processed foods – industrial formulations that are typically high in added fat, refined carbohydrates or both. Think industrially made cookies, cakes, potato chips and pizza.

For many, the desire to change what they eat is triggered by concerns about potentially life-threatening health conditions, like diabetes and heart disease. The impact of diet on health is not a small problem. In fact, a recent multidisciplinary commission of 37 leading scientists from around the globe identified unhealthy diets as a greater risk to human health than unsafe sex and alcohol, drug and tobacco use combined.

Many people know that most ultra-processed foods are not healthy. But the goal of cutting down on them can be so challenging that the majority of these attempts fail. Why?

In my Food and Addiction Science and Treatment Lab at the University of Michigan, my colleagues and I are investigating one largely overlooked factor: These ultra-processed foods may be addictive, sharing more in common with tobacco products than with whole foods like apples or beans.

Read the full article at The Conversation.