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Kids with parents who drink too much more likely to get hooked on junk food

Researchers found that moms or dads who drink too much can increase their kids' risk of gorging on burgers, pizzas, biscuits and cakes.

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A family having a picnic, children playing in the background
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By Mark Waghorn via SWNS

Children with boozy parents are more likely to get hooked on junk food, according to a new study.

Researchers found that moms or dads who drink too much can increase their kids' risk of gorging on burgers, pizzas, biscuits and cakes.

Lead author Lindzey Hoover, a psychology graduate student at the University of Michigan in the US, said: "People who have a family history of addiction may be at greater risk for developing a problematic relationship with highly processed foods.

"It is really challenging in a food environment where these foods are cheap, accessible and heavily marketed."

They also include chicken nuggets, sausages, chips, ice cream, chocolate and fizzy drinks.

The ultra-processed products are high in added sugar, fat and salt and low in protein and fibre - and can trigger an addictive response.

It affects as many as one in five people - marked by a loss of control over intake, intense cravings and an inability to cut down despite negative consequences.

Ms. Hoover and colleagues identified having a parent with alcohol problems as a major risk factor. The finding was based on a survey of 357 men and women in the US.

People with food addiction were also more likely to exhibit personal issues with alcohol, cannabis, tobacco and vaping, the research showed.

Diets dominated by highly processed products and excessive intake of addictive substances are leading causes of preventable death in the modern world.

The study, published in the journal Psychology of Addictive Behaviours, suggests interventions are needed to simultaneously reduce addictive eating and substance use.

Ms. Hoover said: "Public health approaches that have reduced the harm of other addictive substances, like restricting marketing to kids, may be important to consider to reduce the negative impact of highly processed foods."

She added: "The co-occurrence between food addiction and problematic substance use detected in this study indicates that treatment approaches may need to simultaneously consider addictive eating and problematic substance use.

"Parental history of problematic alcohol use appears to be a risk factor for addictive eating and may identify individuals for targeted prevention efforts.

"Public health approaches that have successfully reduced the negative impact of other addictive substances - such as marketing restrictions, taxation - may be important to consider for highly processed foods."

Ultra-processed foods increase the risk of chronic diseases by ridding the body of 'good bacteria'.

They are meant to be convenient and tasty - but diminish the quality of a person's diet, nutritionists say.

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