According to the World Health Organization, unhealthy diet is one key contributor to the development of noncommunicable diseases. The global response to this problem has primarily involved the implementation of nutritional policies intended on raising public awareness, and providing information through nutritional guidelines and product labels.
However, there is experimental evidence suggesting that certain foods may promote addictive processes and consequent unhealthy dietary choices. This review discusses neurobiological mechanisms of reward involved in the consumption of refined sugars and fats, and the aforementioned indicators of their addictive characteristics.
By acknowledging that these foods can act on brain reward systems to promote excessive or addictive consumption, policy makers may need to address issues of unhealthy diets by considering approaches that target availability, regulations within the food industry, taxation and advertising.
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