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Is sweetness addictive? The truth about the effects of diet on appetite, mood and behaviour

British Nutrition Foundation 40th Anniversary Conference addresses the links between diet, appetite, mood and behaviour

As many people struggle with food cravings and weight gain, they could be forgiven for thinking that sweet and fat-rich foods, such as chocolate, might be ‘addictive’.

With rates of overweight and obesity on the rise, there is an urgent need to gain a better understanding of the complex causes of obesity. It is widely accepted that the modern environment contributes to the obesity epidemic. We are less active than ever before yet have ready access to a plentiful food supply. However, some of us are able to maintain a healthy body weight in this environment, whilst others are not.

There is no evidence that sweetness per se is addictive and sweet foods and beverages do not meet the criteria for substance dependence, tolerance or withdrawal. However, psychological factors do influence our eating habits. Many people find themselves turning to food when they are tired, bored or emotional and some individuals are more likely to experience food cravings and the drive to overeat than others.

Whether or not sweetness is ‘addictive’ is one of many questions that will be addressed at a special conference to mark the 40th Anniversary of the British Nutrition Foundation on Tuesday 6th March 2007. The conference brings together a number of international experts in the field of nutrition and behaviour research.

Other questions that will be addressed include:

•What drives some people to overeat?
•What triggers cravings for sweet and fat-rich foods?
•Does a higher protein intake help reduce appetite?
•Does sugar improve your mood?
•Does coffee boost mental performance?
Professor Robert Pickard, Director-General of the British Nutrition Foundation, said: “There is currently misinformation and a lot of myths about the links between diet, appetite, mood and behaviour. This conference provides an opportunity to hear from a number of international experts in the field and aims to address these issues in the context of good science”

Further information can be found in the attached programme or see the BNF website: A complete list of speakers’ abstracts and biographies is also available on request.

A number of free press passes are available for the conference and speakers will be available for interview on the day.

Georgina Bentley | alfa
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