Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Junk food packaging hijacks the same brain processes as drug and alcohol addiction

By Bernd Weber

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

Food is important for our survival, which is why all living beings have developed an urge for high energy foods, like those high in sugar and fat. Historically, this hadn’t been an issue, as energy dense foods weren’t always as available as they are today. The Conversation

But in modern societies, we not only have easy access to cheap, high-energy food, we also have marketing companies pushing them at us. Food packaging plays a big part in triggering brain processes that influence our food choices - similar brain processes that get us stuck on addictive behaviours.

How our brain works in addiction

Some people who eat too much high-calorie food show similar behavioural patterns to those with addictions. An important behavioural component of addiction is a longing to experience the drug again and again, while in many cases, regretting that behaviour. This distinction between wanting something but not necessarily liking it...