Study Finds that 13% of Americans over the Age of 50 are Addicted to Junk Food

Study Finds that 13% of Americans over the Age of 50 are Addicted to Junk Food

According to some data coming from the University of Michigan’s continuing National Poll on Healthy Aging, 1 in 8 adults over the age of 50, or, more precisely, 13 percent of the over 50 population, are actually not able to limit their highly processed foods consumption.

This includes salty or sweet snacks, fatty meals, and sugary drinks, all of which are incredibly damaging to one’s health, especially if eaten on a regular basis and in significant quantities.

The findings of the study were based on a sample of 2,163 participants aged 50 to 80 from a nationally representative sample.

Among the participants, 13 percent were found to exhibit 2 or more signs of addiction to processed foods, although 44 percent reported having at least one symptom associated with addiction.

Intense cravings, futile attempts to reduce intake, and withdrawal symptoms including irritability, difficulty focusing, and headaches, were the most prevalent symptoms.

People with food addictions also described experiencing distress or other issues as a result of their eating habits.

As the United States continues to age, more than 1 in 6 Americans are now 65 or older.

The percentage of people who fit the criteria for addiction was greater among women than among men and it was also higher among overweight people, those who felt lonely, or had fair to poor physical or mental health.

Those 50 to 64 years old were shown to have a higher prevalence of food addiction than adults between the ages of  65 and 80.

The tendency of these meals to cause the brain to produce dopamine, also referred to as the happiness hormone, “at levels equivalent to nicotine and alcohol,” according to the researchers, may be the cause of their addictive qualities.

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that when released, causes positive emotions and the need to repeat or maintain them so it makes sense that these foods can cause addiction as strong as any drug.

Katherine Baldwin

Katherine is just getting her start as a journalist. She attended a technical school while still in high school where she learned a variety of skills, from photography to nutrition. Her enthusiasm for both natural and human sciences is real so she particularly enjoys covering topics on medicine and the environment.

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