Let’s face it: America has become a junk-food nation

If you are a typical consumer, the chances are nearly two-thirds of your diet is made up of highly processed foods.

Think about it. Bagels and donuts for breakfast. Pizza and burritos for lunch. Burgers and fries for dinner, topped off with a scoop of chocolate ice cream. And don’t forget the cookies, candy bars, and cupcakes that seem to pop up almost everywhere, including your neighborhood fitness center.

“We are the epicenter of the people who create, market, and export these highly processed foods,” says Ashley Gearhardt, associate professor of psychology. “Our junk-food environment is so powerful in the U.S. that the default behavior is to eat unhealthily.”

Little wonder that Americans’ waistlines are expanding like beach balls, and diet-related diseases, such as diabetes, are increasing among children and adults. But that’s not all.

Gearhardt has identified another serious health hazard associated with binging on junk food. In some individuals, eating an unhealthy diet full of sugar, fat, and salt may trigger addictive-like symptoms, including withdrawal.

“There is some evidence that highly processed foods might cause adaptations in the brain that resemble and mimic the effects of drugs of abuse,” says Gearhardt, who conducts studies on addiction and eating behaviors at the U-M Food and Addiction Science and Treatment (FAST) lab.

Read the full article at Michigan Today.