Sugar addiction: symptoms, causes, consequences and treatment


In this article, I will provide with you information about sugar addiction, what are its symptoms, causes, consequences, and treatment.

Table of contents

Many people have a particular taste for sweet foods. Throughout history, a wide variety of sweet foods and drinks have been invented that have a flavor that appeals to hundreds of consumers. In turn, there are many sweets that are characterized by their sweetness and pleasant taste.


This class of consumable items is already part of our daily life and is shared by a large part of our environment. However, the excessive consumption of sugar is one of the problems that can generate a series of difficulties.

If this has happened to you or if you know someone who has problems with sugar, this guide can be useful to have tools to solve this problem.

In this article, I will provide with you information about sugar addiction, what are its symptoms, causes, consequences, and treatment.

Causes of sugar addiction

Analyzing the causes that affect sugar addiction is crucial to locating the appropriate and useful methods for each person. Here I will describe the main causes of sugar addiction:

  1. Environmental factors: situations in our environment in which the person has participated in events related to excessive sugar consumption. In many cases, the imitation of behaviors is a characteristic trait of sugar addicts. In this way, it is possible that a person with certain addictive behaviors towards food or other elements has been observed adopting this pattern in their daily life.

  2. Social Stimuli: Another cause of sugar addiction is the influence of the media. The media influences people's decisions through various advertisements associated with consumption. Under these circumstances, images of sugar-laden foods have visual appeal to the consumer who is destined to ingest these hard-to-control foods.

Consequences of sugar addiction

The excessive consumption of ultra-processed foods with sugar leads to a series of direct consequences on people's health. In this section, I will mention the most relevant consequences of sugar addiction:

  • Obesity
  • Type II diabetes
  • Heart attacks
  • Hypertension
  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Aggravation of mental disorders such as depression and anxiety
  • Alterations in learning and memory capacity
  • Weight gain

Over-consumption of sugar has been linked to many different health problems. And many children and adults become chocoholics, which also carries a risk of caffeine addiction as chocolate is a caffeine-containing food.

Health risks aren’t the only concern related to the over-consumption of sugar. One research study has even demonstrated a correlation between childhood daily candy consumption and later violence in adulthood.

Moreover, the overuse of sugar has played a major role in the epidemic of obesity in North America—not only through the direct overconsumption of sweet foods like candy but also through the addition of sugar to make many savory foods more palatable. This makes people more likely to overeat such foods and increases the number of calories they consume.

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Symptoms of sugar addiction

The consumption of sugar activates research centers located in the brain that push us to over consume foods overloaded with sugar. This class of food generates the release of substances called oxytocin and dopamine, which are associated with pleasant sensations.

With this in mind, I would like to talk about the main symptoms of sugar addiction:

  • Cravings for sugary foods
  • Recurring thoughts about eating foods containing sugar
  • Headaches
  • Irritability
  • Nervousness
  • Anxiety

The context in which these symptoms occur must be taken into account in order to determine if it is a sugar addiction or isolated moments of craving for sugary foods.

For this reason, the symptoms of sugar addiction must be assessed by a health professional so that the emotions, behaviors and thoughts of the sufferer can be studied.

Treatment of sugar addiction

Given the consequences of sugar addiction, it is important to have treatments that show considerable effectiveness in solving this problem.

Fortunately, there are interesting and useful alternatives to overcome this type of addiction. Here, I will talk about how to reduce sugar addiction:

  1. Psychological therapy: can help the person understand his or her emotions, behaviours and thoughts in the face of conflict-generating situations. On the one hand, long-term therapies focus on understanding the reason why a person's behavior is dangerous. On the other hand, short-term therapies provide the patient with tools for further resourcefulness in dealing with situations that generate anxiety, stress, anguish and/or other feelings. In this group, we will include cognitive-behavioral therapy and systemic therapy.

  2. Nutritional treatment: since sugar consumption is linked to poor eating habits, a visit to a nutritionist can guide the person suffering from this addiction to reorganize their diet and incorporate healthier foods.

  3. Psychiatric treatment: Sometimes psychiatric consultation is necessary, as there are certain neural circuits in the brain that influence excessive sugar consumption. Medication should always be guided by a mental health professional.

Bottom line

Sugar cravings, as well as cravings for reward, solace and celebration, are natural. Remember it’s ok to use sugar to deal with life’s problems some of the time – most people do.

Difficulties occur when sugar becomes the ‘go-to’ way of dealing with problems it wasn’t designed to fix.

By figuring out what you are truly craving, and developing a range of ways of dealing with it, you will be in control, not the sugar.

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Disclaimer: This article is purely informative, I have no authority to make a diagnosis or recommend a treatment. I invite you to visit a psychologist to treat your particular case.