corn dog

Dr. Neal Barnard of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine was recently targeted by The Daily Show’s Assif Mandvi for insisting that hot dogs are not only unhealthy, but also addictive. But recent research coming by way of universities and government facilities suggests there may actually be more truth to the claim than The Daily Show gave the PCRM credit for; and even adding to the list a number of processed fatty/sugary foods and beverages that can cause addictive behaviors on par with alcohol, tobacco and other serious drugs like cocaine.

The National Library of Medicine’s database has 28 studies published just this year, according to Bloomberg Businessweek, with the evidence leaning strongly towards proving that there are addictive properties of foods containing trans fats, high fructose corn syrup and a number of artificial colors, flavors and sweeteners.

With addiction another—and possibly even potentially more damaging—liability for the fast and snack food industries, manufacturers and food lobbyists are responding to the research by calling it inconclusive proof that processed food products are habit forming. They’re also working to reposition how companies market products, such as Pepsi, who is now calling some of its sugary and fatty snacks ‘”fun for you foods” and suggesting  consumption only in moderation, reports Bloomberg.

If the health of the American public were any gauge for the effects of processed foods—the rising rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer would indicate something bad is definitely in the bloodstream. And with nothing more prevalent, more widely consumed than processed foods—from seemingly healthy frozen meals, canned soups and cereals to the $27 billion snacks, candy and beverages category—the behaviors, buying patterns and health problems Americans face are indicative of a condition that at least resembles, if not clinically matches, that of addiction.

And according to Dr. Barnard, the consumption of these foods, particularly processed meats, is life threatening: ” The World Cancer Research Fund and American Institute for Cancer Research released the most comprehensive review on diet and cancer ever published, prepared by the world’s leading experts, and it was quite damning about the link between processed meat and colorectal cancer. In early 2011, an update to the report encouraged people to avoid processed meats altogether.”

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Image: drewgstephens