As might be expected, a cheese study may become known for its cheesiness, but the internet has become enamored with this cheese study precisely because it essentially claims humans are suffering from a dairy drug addiction. Although that makes for a good headline, is it really fair to compare our most precious cheesy goodness to crack?
In a related report by the Inquisitr, those who suspect the viral cheese study is correct may find it interesting that studying grilled cheese sex is a real thing. Or, at least we now have a good reason to add a WTF section to the science category…
The University of Michigan published their cheese study in the U.S. National Library of Medicine earlier in 2015, but it was not until recently that it started to go viral. The researchers were attempting to identify addictive foods that suck down our wallets, and perhaps not unsurprisingly they found pizza topped the charts since they completed the food study using 500 college students.
What makes the cheese study so interesting is that they used the Yale Food Addiction Scale, which is designed to measure if someone has a food addiction. The food addiction quiz asks people to rate statements like “I find myself consuming certain foods even though I am no longer hungry” and “I have spent time dealing with negative feelings from overeating certain foods, instead of spending time in important activities such as time with family, friends, work, or recreation.” The questions also dig into how much stress and negative feelings occur when that cheesy goodness, or any other potentially addictive food like coffee, is denied.
“Fat seemed to be equally predictive of problematic eating for everyone, regardless of whether they experience symptoms of ‘food addiction,'” said Erica Schulte, one of the study’s authors.
In the case of a cheese addiction, the reason this dairy product can be addictive is because of a milk product protein called casein. According to Mic, diet expert Cameron Wells says that during digestion the casein releases opiates called casomorphins, which can “really play with the dopamine receptors and trigger that addictive element.”
In the abstract for the cheese study, the researchers made the drug addiction connection fairly blatant.
“We propose that highly processed foods share pharmacokinetic properties (e.g. concentrated dose, rapid rate of absorption) with drugs of abuse, due to the addition of fat and/or refined carbohydrates and the rapid rate the refined carbohydrates are absorbed into the system, indicated by glycemic load (GL).”
So, why has the cow milk industry not revealed that we are essentially a bunch of cheese crack addicts?
“It’s certainly not in the interest of the dairy industry to further explore the topic,” explained Wells.
Just how afraid should we be based upon this cheese study? To a certain extent, the main assertion of the paper is fairly speculative, and they literally made the link to dairy crack based upon studying rats, not humans.
“Although there is little evidence in humans of what foods may be addictive, animal models suggest that highly processed foods are associated with addictive-like eating. Rats with a propensity towards binge eating exhibit addictive-like behavior in response to highly processed foods, such as Oreo Double Stuf cookies or frosting, but not to their typical chow.”
In short, the cheese study points to rats displaying a potential “food addiction” based upon eating highly processed foods, but it is uncertain if the same could be said for the average pizza-eating college student. Of course, if you start to look like this photo, then you probably should seek treatment.