Addiction Audio


Ontologies and tobacco, nicotine and vaping products with Sharon Cox

Ep. 45

In this episode we talk to Dr Sharon Cox about developing an ontology around nicotine and tobacco products. Sharon also talks about the importance of ontologies and how they are important for research. She talks about how to manage disagreements when developing a system that categorises and defines products, behaviours and properties.


“So, as researchers, which we are, we should be pedants and we should think it’s important that the products we write about we write about with accuracy.”


“Because we want to be clear, we want to be really clear with the public. We want to make sure that we’re writing lay outputs, developing ad campaigns advising companies….. we want to make sure that we’re communicating the science of our subject as clearly as we can. And that really starts with our academic work.” 


Original article: Toward an ontology of tobacco, nicotine and vaping products by Sharon Cox and colleagues. Published in Addiction (2022)

More Episodes


Highly processed foods and addiction with Ashley Gearhardt

Season 1, Ep. 48
In this episode of Addiction Audio, Rob Talks to Dr Ashley Gearhardt from the University of Michigan about whether highly processed foods can be considered to be addictive substances.Dr Gearhardt starts by defining highly processed foods before covering the issues that arise from having an addictive substance (such as food) that you can’t ‘opt out’ of. Ashley makes comparisons with other addictive substances noting that highly processed foods can induce cravings and lead to a loss of control. She then talks about which foods have a bigger impact on addictive behaviours highlighting foods that contain refined sugars and added fats such as pizzas and donuts.Rob and Ashley then discuss the limits to research whereby there is little agreement on how to define an addictive substance. This is in stark contrast with a growing consensus on how to identify addictive behaviours. There are, for example, agreed diagnostic criteria for addiction, but there is less agreement on how to define whether a substance is addictive.They also talk about how a substance that isn’t intoxicating can be addictive.“It isn’t necessarily the amount of pleasure or liking you get at the moment you consume them [highly processed foods], but the ability that they have to sensitise motivation systems to want more and more and more”“We argue that we need to treat these highly processed foods, not so much as foods per se but as highly refined substances that have been engineered to be incredibly rewarding.”Original article: Highly processed foods can be considered addictive substances based on established scientific criteria by Ashley Gearhardt and Alexandra DiFeliceantonio. Published in Addiction (2022)