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You might be addicted to sugar. Here's how.

If you crave sugar, you're not alone. That craving is a natural response to how the sweetener interacts with the brain.

This video, from neuroscientist and addiction expert Nicole Avena at TED, walks through what happens in the brain when someone is chowing down on a chocolate cake or some other sugary treat:


As Avena explains, sugar can overload the brain reward's system and lead to strong cravings and loss of control. Sugar can, in other words, become an addiction.

Unlike other foods, sugar's effects on the brain also don't appear to level off after a certain amount of consumption. That means sugar doesn't become boring, in the same way broccoli can if you eat a lot of it.

Through its consistently rewarding effect, sugar does, Avena explains, "behave a little bit like a drug." She emphasizes that the effect isn't as strong as, say, nicotine or heroin, but it is similar.

Sugar's effects on the brain are why some policymakers and advocates want stricter regulations on the substance. Robert Lustig, a medical expert at the University of California, San Francisco, even argues that sugar should be treated like a drug when it comes to regulations and taxes.

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