Fake News: Sugar Is NOT 8 Times More Addictive Than Cocaine

Fact Check

  • by: Maarten Schenk

A video/infographic on the Facebook page of David "Advocado" Wolfe claims that sugar is eight times more addictive than cocaine and quotes "Dr. Mark Hyman" as saying "And What's interesting is while cocaine and heroin activate only one spot for pleasure in the brain, sugar lights up the brain like a pinball machine."

The pinball machine quote is not even rendered accurately. On the website of Dr. Hyman (archived here) it is written like this:

And what's even more interesting is that while cocaine and heroin activate only one spot for pleasure in the brain, sugar lights up the brain like a pinball machine!

But what is more relevant the quote is pulled out of context since it is not even speaking about human brains. It occurs in the context of several paragraphs discussing a 2007 study that was done on rats which showed rats preferred getting sweetened water over cocaine injections when given the choice. But that study never claimed sugar was eight times as addictive as cocaine. It also didn't matter if the water was sweetened with actual sugar or with artificial sweeteners, it seems like it was the sweetness overall that influenced the preference of the rats in the experiment, not the presence of actual sugar.

sugar.jpg

We haven't been able to locate any other scientific evidence about the relative addictiveness of sugar vs. cocaine so we are going to go ahead and rate this claim false. Despite the total lack of evidence the video has been shared over 300,000 times which possibly proves that online nonsense can be quite addictive as well, although we'll wait for experiments on rats before jumping to conclusions on that.


  Maarten Schenk

Lead Stories co-founder Maarten Schenk is our resident expert on fake news and hoax websites. He likes to go beyond just debunking trending fake news stories and is endlessly fascinated by the dazzling variety of psychological and technical tricks used by the people and networks who intentionally spread made-up things on the internet.  He can often be found at conferences and events about fake news, disinformation and fact checking when he is not in his office in Belgium monitoring and tracking the latest fake article to go viral.

Read more about or contact Maarten Schenk

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