What Sugar Does to Your Brain: The New Science of Sugar Addiction
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Sugar is a staple in the American diet, but consuming too much of it can be detrimental to health. Many people find it difficult to restrict their intake of foods with added sugars, and this can contribute to obesity and related health problems. Research shows that eating too much sugar can produce behaviors and changes in the brain that are similar to the effects of drugs of abuse, like alcohol or nicotine. These behaviors include bingeing, withdrawal and craving, and this can lead to a cycle of addictive overeating. In addition, change in the brain’s dopamine and opioid systems have been seen in response to overeating sugars. Since many food products contain multiple types of added sugars, in excess amounts, the effects on behavior and brain functioning have widespread implications.

Nicole Avena, PhD

Assistant Professor of Neuroscience
Mount Sinai School of Medicine

Dr. Nicole Avena is a research neuroscientist and expert in the fields of nutrition, diet and addiction. She is a pioneer in the field of food addiction, and it was her seminal research work that jump started this exciting new field of exploration in medicine and nutrition. She is also an expert in diet during pregnancy, and childhood nutrition. Dr. Avena received a Ph.D. in Psychology and Neuroscience from Princeton University in 2006. She then completed her postdoctoral fellowship in 2010 at the prestigious Rockefeller University in New York City, an all-research institution that lays claim to having had 24 Nobel Prize winners on its staff over the years. Dr. Avena presently is Assistant Professor of Neuroscience at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City and a Visiting Professor in Health Psychology at Princeton University. She has published over 90 scholarly journal articles on topics related to diet, nutrition and overeating.


Nicole Avena, PhD

Assistant Professor of Neuroscience
Mount Sinai School of Medicine

Course Overview

Released: 10/3/19
Expires: 10/3/22
Duration: 60:07
Level: Level 2
Available Credit: 1.0 CPEU
Learning Need Codes: 4030; 5200; 2.1.3; 6.2.5; 8.1.2
Performance Indicators 2.1.3; 6.2.5; 8.1.2

*This course has been approved for continuing education for Registered Dietitian Nutritionists and Dietetic Technicians, Registered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR).

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