An alarming new poll by the University of Michigan found that nearly one in eight Americans over 50 have signs of “food addiction.” The survey focused on participants’ eating habits, including a detailed breakdown of how often they ate sweet, salty, and energy-dense foods or processed foods high in added sugars, salt, and fats.
The results showed that 12 percent of respondents had at least two food addiction symptoms–eating when not hungry, eating to avoid negative feelings, and obsessively thinking about food–while 8 percent had three or more symptoms. Those with severe food addictions tended to be women and minority groups such as African Americans and Hispanics.
According to the researchers, this pattern could be linked to lower incomes, which are already tied to fewer healthy food options. This suggests a widespread problem for Americans who are deprived of nutritious options due to socioeconomic factors.
The study’s authors point out that “poor diet quality is becoming a national pandemic” but stress the need for further research into how income inequality impacts people’s access to healthy foods.
It’s clear from these findings that there needs to be a greater focus on making fresh produce more affordable and accessible for all Americans as well as implementing better nutrition education so people can make healthier decisions about their diets.