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The Conversation: Sugar in the diet may increase risks of opioid addiction

University of Guelph, The Conversation, research, opioid crisis, health, sugar, nutrition, Francesco LeriCould a diet high in refined sugars make children and adults more susceptible to opioid addiction and overdose? New research, from our laboratory of behavioral neuroscience at the University of Guelph, suggests it could.

Approximately 20,000 people died of fentanyl-related overdoses in the United States last year and in Canada there were at least 2,816 opioid-related deaths. During 2017 so far, over 1,000 people have died of illicit drug overdoses in British Columbia. High schools are stocking up on the overdose-reversing drug naloxone and universities are training staff to administer the drug.

Nobody is talking about sugar.

And yet there is substantial experimental evidence that refined sugar can promote addictive behaviours by activating the brain’s rewards centres in much the same way as addictive drugs. Opioid abuse is also associated with poor dietary habits, including preferences for sugar-rich foods, as well as malnutrition. These connections have led to questions of whether excessive consumption of refined sugar may affect vulnerability to opioid addiction.

Read the full article here.

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