most addictive foods - full article

The 18 Most Addictive Foods (And the 17 Least Addictive)

By Adda Bjarnadottir, MS |

November, 2015

Up to 20% of people may suffer from food addiction or addictive-like eating behavior (1).

This number is even higher among people with obesity.

Food addiction involves being addicted to food in the same way as drug addicts are addicted to drugs (23).

People who have food addiction are unable to control their consumption of certain foods.

However, people don’t just get addicted to any food. Some foods are much more likely to cause symptoms of addiction than others.

Foods That Can Cause Addictive-Like Eating

Researchers at the University of Michigan studied addictive-like eating in 518 participants (4).

They used the Yale Food Addiction Scale (YFAS) as a reference. This is the most commonly used tool to assess food addiction.

All participants got a list of 35 foods, both processed and unprocessed.

They rated how likely they were to experience problems with each of the 35 foods, on a scale from 1 (not at all addictive) to 7 (extremely addictive).

In this study, 7–10% of participants were diagnosed with full-blown food addiction.

What’s more, 92% of participants had addictive-like eating behavior towards some foods. They repeatedly had the desire to quit eating them, but were unable to (4).

Below, you’ll see the results about which foods were the most and least addictive.

Not surprisingly, most of the foods rated as addictive were processed foods. These foods were usually high in sugar, fat or both.

The number following each food is the average score given in the study mentioned above, on a scale from 1 (not at all addictive) to 7 (extremely addictive).

  1. Pizza (4.01)
  2. Chocolate (3.73)
  3. Chips (3.73)
  4. Cookies (3.71)
  5. Ice cream (3.68)
  6. French fries (3.60)
  7. Cheeseburgers (3.51)
  8. Soda (not diet) (3.29)
  9. Cake (3.26)
  10. Cheese (3.22)
  11. Bacon (3.03)
  12. Fried chicken (2.97)
  13. Rolls (plain) (2.73)
  14. Popcorn (buttered) (2.64)
  15. Breakfast cereal (2.59)
  16. Gummy candy (2.57)
  17. Steak (2.54)
  18. Muffins (2.50)

Bottom Line: The 18 most addictive foods were also the most processed ones, with the highest amounts of fat and added sugar.