Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Is obesity caused by "food addiction"?

Medical News Today reports (via):

Some people really are addicted to foods in a similar way others might be dependent on certain substances, like addictive illegal or prescriptions drugs, or alcohol, researchers from Yale University revealed in Archives of General Psychiatry. Those with an addictive-like behavior seem to have more neural activity in specific parts of the brain in the same way substance-dependent people appear to have, the authors explained.

It's a bit like saying that if you dangle a tasty chocolate milkshake in front of a pathological eater, what goes on in that person's brain is similar to what would happen if you placed a bottle of scotch in front of an alcoholic. . . .

The authors believe that no studies had so far looked into the neural correlates of addictive-like eating behavior.
Those researchers say:
One-third of American adults are now obese and obesity-related disease is the second leading cause of preventable death. Unfortunately, most obesity treatments do not result in lasting weight loss because most patients regain their lost weight within five years. Based on numerous parallels in neural functioning associated with substance dependence and obesity, theorists have proposed that addictive processes may be involved in the etiology of obesity.

Food and drug use both result in dopamine release in mesolimbic regions [of the brain] and the degree of release correlates with subjective reward from both food and drug use.
The article goes on to cite some scientific research, but it's all about the general phenomenon of food addiction. I'm not seeing any correlation or causation between the addiction and obesity.

My question is: if food addiction is the real problem, aren't we all suffering from it?

11 comments:

Richard Lawrence Cohen said...

I find it very hard to resist a milkshake -- or certain other foods, some sweet and some savory. The question is, faced with the temptation, the choice, why do some people succumb and some, who are also by temperament susceptible, make the hard effort not to?

Mannie Barling said...

The cause of weight gain, obesity and food addiction is the genetically modified foods, factory farmed meats and addictive chemical additives such as MSG, Maltodextrin and high fructose corn syrup. The industry has been trying to and successfully addicting Americans with these chemcials for the last 20 years.

It should be noted that people did not get fat on McDonald's in the 50's, 60s or 70s when even NcDonalds was organic. This all started after the introduction of GMO foods in the late 90s.

Mannie Barling and Ashley F. Brooks, R.N., are the authors of award winning books – Arthritis, Inflammation, Gout, Crohn’s, IBD and IBS – How to Eliminate Pain and Extend your Life (Books and Authors 2010 Best Books in the Health, Diet & Reference Categories) and Mannie’s Diet and Enzyme Formula – A Change of Lifestyle Diet Designed for Everyone (Blogger News Net 2010 Best Health And Nutrition Book Award winner) available at HowToEliminatePain.com, Amazon, Barnes&Noble, and other booksellers around the world.

Ann Althouse said...

This is a typical example of the way nervous modern folk turn normal behavior into a disease. I think they're diseased.

Attila Girl said...

A friend of mine wrote a book on the thin line that separates pleasure from addiction--why do some of us get "hooked" on things to the point that they are destructive to us?

I'm curious about Fat Head, which seems to use completely different premises about eating at McDonald's than Morgan Spurlock did . . . and he lost weight by eating fast food! He's a believer in moderation with respect to carbs, so that's part of it . . .

Anonymous said...

The problem is wheat and fructose, and what they do to insulin and leptin. There is a reason the obesity/overweight rate doubled since the introduction of high fructose corn syrup.

If you want to have an intelligent conversation about this subject, watch this 90 minute presentation by
Dr. Robert Lustig, a pediatric neuroendrocrinologist at UCSF.
Sugar: The Bitter Truth

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-oM

It's for a lay audience---but I wish every physician in this country was required to view it.

Vital information.
If you don't have time to watch it, quit eating processed food, and confine yourself to one piece of fruit a day. Don't worry about animal fat---it's good for you.

Dr. Mom

paul a'barge said...

My question is: if food addiction is the real problem, aren't we all suffering from it?

Are we all alcoholics?

Nope.

There's your answer.

John Althouse Cohen said...

Some people never drink alcoholic beverages. Some people do, but only occasionally. Doesn't really work with food.

kjbe said...

My question is: if food addiction is the real problem, aren't we all suffering from it?

No. It's about how and why triggers get switched on when we partake. It's about not having that spigot that most can turn down and off once we get started.

John Althouse Cohen said...

It's about not having that spigot that most can turn down and off once we get started.

You're making it sound like there are some people who just have to eat all the time; they have no choice. I'm not convinced of this. I certainly don't assume that those who are enthusiastically propounding this view have pure motives. Related. (Follow-up.)

The fact is, everyone wants to eat every day. Everyone has to eat multiple times a day. Obviously, some people enjoy it more than others. And some people do it more than others, but this is a choice. Where do you draw a dividing line between those who are "normal" and those we're supposed to stigmatize with a disease-like label and the notion that they lack an adult level of autonomy?

Anonymous said...

As a formerly obese person, I can testify that much of what Ms Barling wrote is false. I was a fat kid (then about 50% over ideal weight for my height) growing up in the 1950's. There were no genetically modified foods available then, nor factory farmed meats, nor were chemical additives a big part of my diet. My mother didn't trust commercial sodas,or most restaurants. I got fat eating her home cooked meat and potatoes, and plenty of bakery bread and butter. I don't know if childhood obesity was then the epidemic it appears to be today, but there must have been plenty of fat kids in Manhattan then since the "husky" section at Barneys did a big trade. (in those unsophisticated days, Barney's down on 7th avenue was a lower price mens clothing store)

The factors Ms Barling cites may indeed contrbute to obesity, but if they are "the cause"of weight gain, why have there been obese people for centuries?

mikee said...

I'm fat. I'm fat because I eat more calories than I burn every day.

It pretty much doesn't matter if the calories consist of carbs, fats, proteins or pixie dust, because I eat more calories every day than I burn, the excess is converted into fat by my body.

To lose weight eat fewer calories than you burn each day.

To stay thin, eat about the same amount of calories you burn every day.

Any questions?