(WHTM) — A recent poll shows that one in eight Americans over the age of 50 are addicted to highly processed foods, like sweets, salty snacks, sugary drinks, and fast food. That is not surprising to Cleveland Clinic Registered Dietitian Kristin Kirkpatrick, who said that these foods are hyper-palatable.

So what is hyper-palatable food?

“It’s a food that studies have shown really hijacks areas in the brain. So they’ll make you feel great, that’s one thing they’ll do. They’ll take away the sensation of fullness. So when we look at something that is hyper-palatable, it’s very hard to stop eating that,” Kirkpatrick said.

Signs of food addiction can include intense cravings, having trouble cutting down on how much you are eating, as well as experiencing withdrawal.

Kirkpatrick said there is also no one direct cause for food addiction, as it can vary from person to person. For example, someone might be triggered by an event or person, or use food to help cope with their emotions.

That is why Kirkpatrick says it is so important to have a therapist involved in this type of issue because they can help get to the root cause. From there registered dietitians can help pick the right foods to eat.

“We have studies that look at food addiction and looking at trauma in childhood. We have studies looking at if your parents, one or two parents were alcoholics, there was a new study showing that you were more likely to be going into food addiction. So there are a lot of things outside of the dietetic world that are more in the mental health world – this is why a therapist is going to be so crucial to work with,” Kirkpatrick said.

Researchers involved in the poll suggest physicians ask people about food addictions, which can ultimately help them receive the right treatment and to improve their overall physical and mental health.