Kiwi researchers confirm what all us bread and pasta lovers already know… carbs are indeed addictive, just like alcohol and cigarettes.

Cornflakes, croissants and other carbohydrate-rich foods could be as addictive as cigarettes, Auckland University researchers say.

In fact compulsive eaters might not be “greedy”, but simply fighting addiction. Lead researcher Simon Thornley, from Auckland Regional Public Health Service, said heavily processed carbohydrates caused blood-sugar levels to spike suddenly.

This “sugar rush” stimulated the same areas of the brain associated with addiction to nicotine and other drugs.

His controversial paper, published in the journal Medical Hypotheses, suggests the sugar content of foods can predict their “addictive potential” and it calls for tougher regulation. Dr Thornley and his colleagues found that people who binged on high-carbohydrate foods experienced symptoms of addiction loss of control, a compulsion to keep taking higher amounts to get the same “buzz”, and suffering depression if they went “cold turkey”.

Like those addicted to cocaine and alcohol, people with a higher body mass index had fewer brain pleasure receptors.

Speaking to Britain’s Daily Mail, Dr Thornley said there was a good case for treating highly refined foods in the same way as cigarettes banning TV advertisements, taxing them and insisting on health warning labels. Low-carb, high-protein diets, such as the popular Dr Atkins weight-loss regime which cuts carbohydrates in favour of fatty foods, have been criticised by dieticians, who say 40 per cent to 60 per cent of calories in a healthy diet should come from carbohydrates.

Good complex carbohydrates are found in starchy foods including wholegrain breads, cereals, starchy vegetables and legumes.

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