SKITTLES, tiny, multi-coloured sweets we shared as kids, were popular for their brightly coloured sugary coating and chewy centre. Who knew that the colourings used contain heightened amounts of titanium dioxide, a whitening agent used in paints and building materials?

Now exposed as a direct link to cancer, chemical additives like these have been declared as ‘unfit for human consumption’. Their producer, Mars Inc., is currently being sued in California with a lawsuit claiming the chemical is accumulated in the body and can generate change in DNA.

In other legislation, scientists from the University of Michigan have proved that additives like these are in a food group classed as ‘ultra processed foods’ (UPF), industrial formulations manufactured to add cosmetic appeal and be extremely palatable and convenient to foods that are aggressively marketed.

They have been proven to have the same effect on the human body as illegal drugs or nicotine-based products. In trials, people experienced intense cravings, symptoms of withdrawal and continued consumption, despite being aware of the risks.

International research across 36 countries has published findings that 14 per cent of adults and 12 per cent of children display ‘ultra processed food addiction’, a leading cause of obesity, cancers and associated health risks.

There are now calls for UPFs to be labelled ‘addictive’.

Parallel to this, drugs such as semaglutide, marketed as Wegovy here in Scotland, are being prescribed for patients in a specialist weight loss management service. Delivered via injection to the skin, it makes patients feel fuller and curbs appetite. Reports from the food industry in America have already reported changes in shopping habits of people on these drugs. Even clothes manufacturers are reporting a shift downwards in clothes sizes.

Over the last 30 years, governments have battled the food-and-drink giants to control the markets of addictive cigarettes and alcohol. It is now becoming apparent that there is an even bigger battle ahead: the battle to stop companies advertising and selling food products that directly cause addiction and obesity; and the complicit pharmaceutical companies selling drugs to counteract the effects, making vast profits in the process.