Food Addiction Nonsense

Claim made by: Kima Cargill, an Associate Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Washington, Tacoma and the author of The Psychology of Overeating: Food and the Culture of Consumerism
Spotted on: 2017-08-30

This whole article - an extract from a book by a psychologist - is full of dubious, unreferenced nonsense.

e.g. "forms of salt have been developed that dissolve far faster than normal and deliver a jolt to the brain. These resemble natural salt no more than crack cocaine resembles the coca leaf."

or: "It’s true that rats, monkeys and humans show addiction-like behaviour when exposed to highly palatable, calorie-dense foods, sometimes even preferring them to drugs such as cocaine. But I’ve come to see that nearly all the foods that elicit addictive behaviour share one thing in common: they have been significantly altered or enhanced through manufactured flavour chemicals and ingredients – also known as drugs."

or: "Commercially sold cookies now share many of the same reward-giving properties as crystal meth. That’s because they contain highly palatable and highly profitable ingredients, often forms of sugar or salt. These are not your grandmother’s salt and sugar – they are complex formulations engineered by food scientists to be irresistible. They’re psychoactive compounds that meet the definition of an addictive substance."

There are lots of good, sceptical comments, but it strikes me as a very poor article from someone who doesn't seem to know much about chemistry, neuroscience, or how to reference peer reviewed studies and draw appropriate conclusions. There really is a dearth of good, scientifically literate articles in the Guardian, but this strikes me as a real shocker and I'd like to see a review of this article and the book by someone knowledgeable and qualified, plus a stinging admonition to the Guardian for publishing it.

Update 2017-08-30

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