There have been a number of studies recently which claim that people who are struggling to lose weight in the 21st century have become ‘addicted’ to sugar

While there may be some truth in the idea, there’s a lot more to the ‘sugar’ issue than appears on the surface.

Let’s look at sugar, sugar-reliance and how this all affects your weight-loss programme.


Are people really ‘addicted’ to sugar like cocaine users are ‘addicted’ to cocaine?

Someone who eats a lot of sugary foods every day may experience some withdrawal when taken off sugar, they certainly don’t go through the same severity of symptoms faced by a person in drug rehab. A tendency towards eating too much sugar is also not usually accompanied by the inability to work, or function in society due to the impact that the constant craving has on the individual.

WIN a R 2,000 Woolworths Voucher

Subscribe to our Free Daily All4Women Newsletter to enter

The use of the word ‘addiction’ is what’s up for debate here, and I prefer not to use it to refer to something like sugar, because it is found in healthy simple foods like fruit. Cocaine, heroin, mandrax and other hard drugs are not also available as food.

So, while people may eat too much sugar, and feel like they have ‘cravings’, I don’t like to refer to them as addicts (see the criteria below for substance use disorders according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders/DSM-5)

Many of them do, however, look to food – and primarily sugary foods – to help them ‘feel better’.

Criteria for Substance Abuse Disorders according to the DSM-5:

Substance use disorders span a wide variety of problems arising from substance use, and cover 11 different criteria:

1. Taking the substance in larger amounts or for longer than you’re meant to.

2. Wanting to cut down or stop using the substance but not managing to.

3. Spending a lot of time getting, using or recovering from the use of the substance.

4. Cravings and urges to use the substance.

5. Not managing to do what you should at work, home or school because of substance use.

6. Continuing to use, even when it causes problems in relationships.

7. Giving up important social, occupational or recreational activities because of substance use.

8. Using substances again and again, even when it puts you in danger.

9. Continuing to use it, even when you know you have a physical or psychological problem that could have been caused or made worse by the substance.

10. Needing more of the substance to get the effect you want (tolerance).

11. Development of withdrawal symptoms, which can be relieved by taking more of the substance.


Click page 2 below to find out if you’re ‘sugar-reliant’, and how you can start living a more healthy lifestyle…

While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.