Parents’ drinking habits may influence processed food addiction

Parents’ drinking habits may influence processed food addiction

If your parents’ version of happy hour generally turned into many not-so-happy hours, do you often find yourself reaching for ice cream, guzzling soda or noshing on a hot toaster pastry?

Research suggests the impulses of parent and child are often intertwined.

A University of Michigan-led study of 357 men and women has found that those whose parents had a history of alcohol problems are at higher risk for addiction to highly processed foods.

A food addiction is marked by a loss of control over how much one eats, intense cravings and not being able to cut down despite negative consequences.

About 1 in 6 people report some sort of disordered eating connected to highly processed foods, which are sometimes tricky to define. In general, however, they contain unnaturally high amounts of refined carbohydrates and fats and simultaneously ping our brain’s reward system.

Think of fast-food French fries, cookies or anything you buy at a grocery store with a label full of hard-to-pronounce ingredients, like butylated hydroxyanisole [byü-te-lay-ted hydrox-ee-an-iss-all].

Parental substance disorders are already known to be tied to children who later drink alcohol more often and earlier than their peers. Those children also have higher risk of abusing cannabis, tobacco and illicit drugs as well as gambling problems.

One notable finding: Food addiction — but not obesity — often occurred in connection with the participants’ own substance abuse as well as that of their parents.

The researchers say the study could help bring targeted prevention efforts and changes in public health policy.

But to put this study in a nutshell: The highly processed apple cider donuts don’t always fall far from the tree.

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