Chill the ice cream “addictive as cocaine” sensationalism

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From a lab in Oregon, news spread around the globe last week – to the UK, India, New Zealand and elsewhere with headlines such as:

Ice cream as addictive as cocaine

Thankfully, the news didn’t create many ice cream headaches in the U.S., although the increasingly pop-science-crazy weighed in with:

I was traveling, so missed the barrage.  Thankfully, the calm and reasonable British site, “Behind the Headlines,” was calm and reasonable in evaluating the evidence:

“…the study in question looked at measures of brain activity in 151 teenagers while they drank an ice cream milkshake. During the scans, teenagers who had frequently eaten ice cream over the past two weeks showed less activity in the “reward areas” of the brain that give pleasurable sensations. This reduced reward sensation was reported to be similar to what is seen in drug addiction as users become desensitised to drugs.

It should be noted that the study included only healthy teenagers of normal weight, and its results may not represent overweight or older people. It also only tested one food, so the results may not apply to other foods.

Unsurprisingly, the study did not directly compare brain responses to or cravings for ice cream with those for illegal drugs. Therefore, while some aspects of the brain’s response may be similar, it is not correct to say that this study has found that ice cream is “as addictive” as illegal drugs.”

So chill the hype.  We have far more important health care news than this that should be dominating our pages, websites, etc.

(Ice cream cone photo credit:  ctechs via stock.xchng)



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