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Drugs & Health Blog

Addicted to French Fries: Is Food a Drug?

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Sara Bellum

According to the American Heart Association, about one in three kids and teens in the United States is overweight or obese. Obesity can lead to chronic health problems like heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Obesity can even shorten your life.

You probably already heard this in the news. But, did you know that a diet high in saturated fats, refined sugars, corn syrup, and carbohydrates literally tricks our brains into craving more unhealthy stuff?

Brains React to Food

Most people don’t just consume food for “fuel” or energy. Most of us enjoy eating, especially our favorite foods. Science backs this up: Consuming tasty foods can satisfy the natural brain reward system, releasing the chemical dopamine, known as the feel-good brain chemical, to add to overall feelings of contentment and satisfaction. This is good for our survival since we have to eat to survive.

Overeating is different from drug abuse, but is also based in the brain. Scientists now understand that, for a growing number of people, certain foods trick the brain into wanting more. Pizza, French fries, chocolate, and colas are high on the list of foods that trigger dopamine.

In this way, food causes reactions in the brain similar to those caused by some drugs, like cocaine, methamphetamine, and marijuana, which also affect dopamine levels and lead to compulsive drug seeking and use.

According to NIDA Director Dr. Nora D. Volkow, “We are finding tremendous overlap between drugs in the brain and food in the brain.”

Steps You Can Take

It’s important to balance your diet with healthy choices and right-sized portions to ensure you get all the nutrition you need to be healthy. Here are a few tips from Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! Campaign:

  • Try new fruits and veggies. Add variety to your meals to make eating healthier, fun, and interesting.
  • Drink smart. Skip soda and other drinks flavored with sugar or high-fructose corn syrup. Choose water—make it more exciting by adding a splash of lemon or a few mint leaves.
  • Move every day. Walk or bike to your destination. Turn off the TV and go outside.

Now you tell us: What do you do to eat well, keep fit, and stay healthy?

Comments posted to the Drugs & Health Blog are from the general public and may contain inaccurate information. They do not represent the views of NIDA or any other federal government entity.


keep yourself healthy, you must avoid using any type of tobacco product. Try not to breathe second hand cigarette smoke, Get regular exercise, and Eat a healthy diet.

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what is obesity

Obesity is an abnormal accumulation of body fat, usually 20% or more over a person’s ideal body weight, taking age and height into account.

I guess they are what people call "comfort foods".


freakin food is the bomb!!! ;)

i ♥ fooooooooooodddddd!!! do u?

i ♥ food !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :D

you are food

i am aleric to french fries


Obesity will not be a worry as long as we keep healthy life style. change eat habit to healthy eating, no smoking, don't be stress and most important is regular exercises. Thanks
Eating healthy and exercising always keeps you healthy
i love hot wangs but yea don't over eat because you might not like it if you get to over weight but just think of eating healthy and if you do crave unhealthy food i guess its alright every once in a while to eat a little something but i like salad any ways i gonna eat one for lunch yum!!!
It is indeed smart not to have too much fries if only by any means necessary