‘This disorder has almost killed me’: His addiction to ultraprocessed food began as a child

Chicago native Jeffrey Odwazny says he has been addicted to ultraprocessed food since he was a child.

“I was driven to eat and eat and eat, and while I would overeat healthy food, what really got me were the candies, the cakes, the pies, the ice cream,” said the 54-year-old former warehouse supervisor.

“I really gravitated towards the sugary ultraprocessed foods — it was like a physical drive, I had to have it,” he said. “My parents would find hefty bags full of candy wrappers hidden in my closet. I would steal things from stores as a kid and later as an adult.”

Some 12% of the nearly 73 million children and adolescents in the United States today struggle with a similar food addictionaccording to research. To be diagnosed, children must meet Yale Food Addiction Scale criteria as stringent as any for alcohol use disorder or other addictions.

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