Most people have jokingly said that a particular fast food item is “like crack,” but a new publication suggests these seemingly innocent food items can be as addictive as heroin and cocaine…thanks to the ingredients put in them.
The Supersize Trend
The website One Green Planet cites five ingredients routinely found in fast food fare that can cause uncontrollable urges in craving these items. The primary problem is sugar, which the US National Library of Medicine says “can not only substitute to addictive drugs, like cocaine, but can even be more rewarding and attractive.”
The fats found in these items also fill the “pleasure centers” in the brain according to Paul J. Kenny, Ph.D., an associate professor of molecular therapeutics at the Scripps Research Institute. He claims that “eventually the pleasure centers 'crash,' and achieving the same pleasure - or even just feeling normal - requires increasing amounts of the drug or food.”
A Quick Chemistry Lesson
Monosodium Glutamate, commonly known as MSG, is also a problem because it hinders people from feeling full. It causes addictive tendencies because eating more of it actually results in taking longer to feel satisfied.
A protein known as casein has also been referred to as the “nicotine” of fast food because when broken apart during digestion, it releases an assortment of opiates called casmorphins, which have one-tenth of the pain killing potency of morphine.
On the Bandwagon
But while many people would be reluctant to compare sugar with heroin, a small percentage of fast food restaurants are actually serving addictive substances. In July 2011, three select Burger King locations began offering beer and wine on-site at a “Whopper Bar,” while Sonic began selling beer that same summer at two restaurants in Florida. Five Starbucks locations in Seattle also began selling beer and wine, with beer going for $5 per bottle and wine selling for up to $9 per class.
It doesn’t appear that the test run has since expanded beyond these locations, though. All three companies also made it clear that they would not sell beer and wine as a drive-thru option.
Of course, many people show up to fast food restaurants with beer and wine already in their systems. The summer of 2013 saw a fad known as “McDiving,” which involved getting drunk and jumping over the counters at McDonald’s, go viral in a series of YouTube videos from boozy college students.
The practice became so common that McDonald's was forced to release a statement declaring that they "do not condone jumping over our restaurant front counters as it poses a serious health and safety risk to both the participants and our restaurant staff."