From the article:
People who are denied a Pop Tart don't experience those things. Instead, at worst, they get a bit peevish.
Kids are people too. Deny them a pop tart. I dare you to describe the reaction that follows as "peevish".
People say that eating sugar lights up neural reward pathways, just like it does with drugs. Sure, but these same pathways also light up from sex, working out, and playing video games.
However, it's the act of doing those things that lights up your brain circuitry like the Vegas strip – not the substance. Therefore, you can't go nutritional Sherlock Holmes on us and say that sugar, since it lights up the same pathways as drugs, is addictive.
Logical fallacy. The acts cited do not involve consuming a substance. Therefore, the effect of consuming sugar comes from the consumption of it, not from the nature of the substance once consumed.
The correct logic is that these acts, while they do not involve the consumption of a substance, cause the body itself to secrete and release substances which do act on the neural systems. Indeed, these same endogenous substances are stimulated by sugar, hence the same effect on neural systems. The alternative is that we would claim that sugar mimics these endogenous substances, which is patently false. For example, sugar is not similar in any way to dopamine (as far as I'm aware).
Incidentally, eating also acts on the same neural systems, especially in the context of hunger and satiety. Same goes for drinking, thirst, quench; sleeping, tired, rested; learning, curious, satisfied; fighting, running away, scared, safe; and so forth for everything that keeps us alive. For each instance of being driven to act or to consume, there is normally a counterpart inhibition of same derived directly from the act or substance itself. If an act or substance did not inhibit the drive for its consumption, it would end up being consumed continuously, for the drive would persist.
Hard-Wired For Donuts
Further, don't mistake ordinary cravings for true addiction. If you jones for something sweet or fatty, you're merely responding to your genetic blueprint.
Humans are hard-wired to crave Dunkin' Donuts and its ilk. Food in general was hard to come by in pre-agricultural societies, so we were programmed to scarf up stuff that was high in calories and easily absorbable, i.e., fat and sugars. But our genetic programming doesn't match the current landscape. We don't need that stuff, even though the cravings still remain.
So if you love a particular food, or love it because of its sugary sweetness, it's not because you're addicted to it; it's because it lights up the reward center in your brain that's leftover from your cave-dwelling days.
Yes, sugar is a big problem. It's a leading contributor to obesity. It can lead to diabetes, and heart and liver disease, but if you can't stop yourself from eating it, or giving it some medical power that it doesn't possess, well, that's on you.
Yes, we used to pluck donuts and candy from donut trees and candy bushes. We are genetically programmed to recreate - through the development of mechanized agriculture and industrial food processing - that which was once available naturally - donuts and its ilk.
Yes, food was scarce, so we did not develop ways to conserve extra food in anticipation of times of scarcity, we just scarfed down everything that wasn't tied down, grew as much excess fat mass as humanly possible, then trundled along to the next patch of donut trees and candy bushes.
We were not truly addicted, it was just an ordinary craving, which we were genetically programmed with. That's why we ate every single donut and candy in sight.
We're still programmed to eat every single donut and candy in sight, there's just too much of that now!
Sugar is bad bad bad. We're programmed to eat as much sugar as possible. We're programmed to kill ourselves through diabetes, heart and liver disease, and it's entirely our own damn fault.
But seriously. An addiction is defined in several ways. Generally, first, we're driven to act or consume. Also generally, second, the act or consumption satisfies the drive. Thirdly, the drive, or the act or consumption can be disproportionate so that the act or consumption is excessive. For example, smoking tobacco is addictive because of nicotine. However, smoking gradually blocks the ability to absorb nicotine - the lungs get clogged with tar and other stuff - we end up smoking more tobacco for the same satisfaction. In a similar fashion, sugar also demands that we gradually consume more for the same satisfaction, as we become less sensitive to its effects, i.e. insulin resistance. In the extreme, we can die from it - inability to use oxygen (a problem with red blood cells and glycation, I believe), ketoacidosis, infection, gangrene, limb loss, etc.