The food police and busybodies are pushing a narrative that certain chosen foods are addictive, but no matter how often you conflate the words “addiction” with “desire” or “craving,” you won’t succeed in making them synonyms. But the cockamamie idea that cookies are crack is the premise on which food cops are calling for their long sought after taxes, regulations, and bans. (It’s easier to convince people that their choice should be limited if you take self-control off the table.)
A classic example of this fallacy is on display in a Vox.com article, which argues: “[S]ugar can overload the brain reward’s system and lead to strong cravings and loss of control. Sugar can, in other words, become an addiction.” The sourcing is who we’d expect: Dr. Robert Lustig, the talisman of the food police (and third-rate health writers the world over), who has said that obesity is worse than the bubonic plague, makes his requisite appearance.
To show the idiocy of this argument, notice how you can replace the word “sugar” in the quoted sentence with almost anything: shopping, Facebook, HBO miniseries, etc. If we can be addicted to anything, then the word loses its meaning and demeans true chemical addictions of the drug variety.
Another article on HuffPo today that showcases a list of the so-called seven most addictive foods (a greatest hits list for the food police) attempts to clarify the issue: When we eat these foods “our nerve endings send signals, which travel up to the pleasure center – the hypothalamus – of our brains.”
Yes, these foods and almost every other food and drink too. Using this definition of addiction would lead to the bizarre conclusion that we are addicted to water because of the pleasure it gives us when we are thirsty. What makes these seven foods so special? Could it be because busybodies don’t like them?