Food and Behaviour Research

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18 March 2013 - The Guardian - Students: just say no to sugar

by David Cox


Forget illegal drugs, students are overdosing on sugar. Little do they know that binging on sweet food is a serious form of substance abuse

When people talk about substance abuse at university, they generally think of recreational drugs. But even if you think you're keeping your time as a student relatively clean, research suggests you will probably fall victim to one highly addictive drug innocently consumed in large quantities by millions. That drug is sugar.

We don't think of sugar as a drug: it's found in most of the foods and drinks we encounter every day. And at university, where stress levels can be high and fast food is cheap, it's all too easy to reach out for the comfort blanket it provides.

Many students' diets consist of pizzas, take-aways and chocolate bars. Whether you spend your time raving or revising, there's always something better to do than think about eating healthily. And with university halls often providing only the most basic cooking facilities, a well-balanced diet simply doesn't feature in most students' lifestyles.

But a growing understanding of sugar's addictive nature, coupled with a sharp rise in obesity and type 2 diabetes in the UK, means universities are starting to take healthy eating issues seriously.