Is Your Sweet Tooth an Addiction?

Dr. Teitelbaum says sugar can be addictive and offers tips on kicking the habit.

ByABC News
June 9, 2010, 2:33 PM

June 10, 2010— -- Are you a sweet food junkie? A slave to Snickers and soft drinks? Do you rely on that mid-afternoon sugar rush to get you through the day?

Then you may well have a sugar addiction, according to Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum, author of "Beat Sugar Addiction Now."

Over three decades of treating patients struggling with fatigue, pain and obesity, Teitelbaum has identified what he says are four types of sugar addicts and in his recent book, he explains what causes these issues and how to kick the sugar habit.

"There are changes in our metabolism, in the stress hormones, that drive us to eat sugar," says Teitelbaum, who is also director of the National Fibromyalgia and Fatigue Centers. "I would classify it as an addiction."

But Teitelbaum's approach is a controversial one. Because many of his theories about sugar addiction come from his work with patients -- and not peer-reviewed studies -- his methods are met with skepticism by many dieticians.

"I don't think we have the science to support the notion that sugar is addictive," says Samantha Heller, registered dietitian and author of "Get Smart: Samantha Heller's Nutrition Prescription For Boosting Brain Power & Optimizing Total Body Health."

Heller also points out that an article published in the journal Clinical Nutrition in June found that there is no evidence that sugar -- or any food for that matter -- can actually become addicting to humans.

But regardless of whether you can actually be a "sugar addict," physicians and dieticians agree that America has got a huge and problematic sweet tooth -- one that is exacerbating numerous health concerns such as obesity, heart disease and diabetes.