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“Because of the increasing rates of obesity, unhealthy eating habits, and physical inactivity, we may see the first generation that will have a shorter life expectancy than their parents.”

U.S. Surgeon General,
Richard Carmona,
March 2004


Serge H. Ahmed, Ph.D.

2009 Summit video presentation

Scientist, University of Bordeaux, France

Serge Ahmed is a scientist who specializes in addiction research in Bordeaux, France. He is a tenure research officer at the French National Research Council since 1999, and has been conducting experimental research on addiction since the early 90s. His PhD thesis was directed on the environmental modulation of sensitization, a long-lasting alteration in the brain reward system that can be induced both by repeated use of drugs of abuse and palatable food. From 1996 to 2000, he served as a postdoctoral fellow at the Neuropharmacology Department, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla (USA). There, he developed a unique animal model of the transition from cocaine use to addiction. This model is now used in many different laboratories across the world to elucidate cocaine addiction-related molecular, cellular and behavioral alterations. Very recently, Serge Ahmed and his PhD students serendipitously discovered that the taste of sweetness is much more rewarding than intravenous cocaine and heroin, even in drug-sensitized animals with a long history of drug self-administration. Currently, his research work focuses on the relative addictive potential of sweet beverages.

Serge Ahmed has published several dozen articles, including several the peer-reviewed scientific journals Science and Nature. Serge Ahmed was awarded the Vocation Prize from the Foundation Marcel Bleustein-Blanchet and is a recipient of a young research grant from the French National Agency. Serge Ahmed lives in Bordeaux, France, with his wife.


First, historians remind us in great detail how the emerging craving for refined sugar in the pre-industrial Europe has caused the enslavement and death of millions of other people. This dark historical period is a sad, though effective, way to estimate the strength of our desire for an inessential, though highly rewarding, substance. Second, sociologists, economists and epidemiologists have accumulated strong evidence linking increased accessibility and consumption of refined sugar with obesity in vulnerable populations, such as, for instance, children and adults from poor communities.

The reason my research focuses on addiction is I want to understand how an initial reward-seeking activity eventually becomes deleterious both to the individual and to the community and how, despite eventually becoming aware of these harmful consequences, both the individual and the community often fail to take appropriate actions to successfully prevent them.

I believe that more financial funding is needed to support comparative research on food addiction and drug addiction. When society finally discovers that refined sugar is just another white powder, along with pure cocaine, it will change its mind and attitude toward refined food addiction.