On April 1, CBS aired a piece they called “Sugar”, which reported on new research coming out of some of America’s most respected institutions. Some of these researchers are calling sugar a toxin and naming it a driving force behind a few of this country’s leading killers, including heart disease and cancer. Others are declaring it to be as addictive as drugs and alcohol.
In the report, CBS spoke to Eric Stice, a neuroscientist at the Oregon Research Institute, who is using functional MRI scanners to learn how our brains respond to sweetness. In his research, Dr. Stice has found that sugar activates our brain in a way similar to how it reacts to drugs like cocaine. Scans were taken while the subjects were given sips of a sweet beverage and they found that Dopamine, a chemical that controls the brain’s pleasure center is being released, just as it would in response to drugs or alcohol. By scanning hundreds of volunteers, he’s learned that people who frequently drink sodas or eat ice cream or other sweet foods may be building up a tolerance, much like drug users do. “As strange as it sounds, it means the more you eat, the less you feel the reward. The result is, you eat more than ever,” explains Dr. Stice.