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Like an entry-level drug: sugar and fat encourage increased alcohol consumption


Those who eat a lot of fat and sugar in childhood will drink more alcohol later

Sugar and fat can act like a drug and create addictive behavior. Adolescents who regularly have a high sugar and fat diet tend to consume alcohol frequently in later life. These are the results of a large European study that found a clear correlation between early sugar and fat consumption and later drinking alcohol.

In a large study led by the Leibniz Institute for Prevention Research and Epidemiology, ten European institutions came to the conclusion that a high-fat and sugar-rich diet in children is associated with an increased risk of using the bottle more frequently in later life. According to the researchers, addiction mechanisms play a role in this, which are trained early on through sugar and fat consumption. The study results were recently published in the "Public Health Nutrition" magazine and were awarded the EUSPR Presidents' Award for outstanding research.

From superfood to risk factor

Chips, pizza, cola, burgers and fries - children love fatty and sugary foods and drinks. As the researchers report, this desire is deeply rooted in our genes. With our early ancestors, the daily supply of nutrients was by no means as secure as it is today. In the past, fats and sugar were rare and important sources of energy, which in a world where malnutrition prevailed, ensured the livelihood and ensured growth.

Sugar and fat trigger addictive behavior

Our brain simply cannot resist the mixture of fat and carbohydrates. Earlier studies recognized that fat and sugar consumption can trigger addictive behavior. According to the researchers, sugar or fat does not directly trigger dependency, but rather a preference for it. The research team reports that people who have a preference for sweets and fats tend to overuse, lose control, and greed. This addictive behavior is known in specialist circles as "craving".

Entry-level drugs sugar and fat

The researchers were now investigating whether children who are more prone to craving for fatty and sugary foods tend to go to the bottle more quickly and have an increased risk of alcoholism. The research team analyzed the data of more than 16,000 children. The team led by student author Kirsten Mehlig was able to clearly see that children who consumed too much sugar and fat-rich foods later consume alcohol significantly more frequently and regularly than adolescents, compared to children who ate less fat and sugar.

Regardless of gender and country

"This pattern was found in both genders and in all countries examined," the researchers explain in a press release on the study results. The team also found that certain family factors, such as higher incomes and better education for parents, have a positive impact on children's eating habits and alcohol behavior.

You can not teach old dogs new tricks

The study results suggest that once learned unhealthy eating habits in childhood can have a long-lasting negative impact on adult health. The study team recommends that all parents pay more attention to their children's nutrition. Researchers are also calling for more policy measures to raise public awareness of the effects of unhealthy eating. The research team also believes that food manufacturers should be more regulated, for example through a sugar tax. (vb)

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