Food Addiction: Fact or Fiction??



Going along with my previous post about compulsive hoarding, I wanted to look up other strange addictions. Something incredible I found was that it is actually considered a medical condition to be addicted to food. That's right, just like being addicted to drugs and alcohol; people have been diagnosed as food addicts. Personally, I found this a little ridiculous, but many websites supported the idea that people actually are unable to control their eating habits. So-called symptoms of food addiction include:

1.     End up eating more than planned when you start eating certain foods

2.     Keep eating certain foods even if you're no longer hungry

3.     Eat to the point of feeling ill

4.     Worry about not eating certain types of foods or worry about cutting down on certain types of foods

5.     When certain foods aren't available, go out of your way to obtain them


Not only these symptoms, but doctors also conclude that people who are addicted to food will avoid social situations to avoid over eating and also "fear" working and school because they don't believe they can function properly without food. They conclude that people feel some sort of anxiety and fear if they can't be constantly surrounded by food.

Now I don't know about any of you, but to me this didn't sound like any actual "disorder" as I was reading up about it. I would assume that most obese people suffer from these "symptoms", and that just might be a side effect of being overweight. However, after reading more into it, there was much more medical reasoning to back up this disorder. For instance, studies in animals and humans have showed that the reward centers in the brain that activate when using highly addictive drugs like cocaine or heroin are the same ones activated when people are eating certain foods, especially those high in fat, sugar, and salt. Because of studies like this, food addiction has been classified as a biological disorder by the medical field.

Still not buying it? One article I read provided an especially intriguing example to back up food addiction. In the movie Super Size Me, when Morgan Spurlock first eats all the McDonald's food, he isn't able to stomach it. However, by the end of the movie not only can he stomach it, but he felt better after eating it. The way he felt can be considered similar to how a drug or alcohol addict feels once they've satisfied their cravings. Millions of people believe that food addiction is a real disorder, and there are even multiple websites to back it up. So what do you think, food addiction, fact or fiction?? 


I think food addiction is real. Just like a drug addict continuously take drugs to satisfy their cravings so does a person who is obsessed with food. Picture this, you are at a dining hall, lets say West. You smell cookies, you know that you shouldn't eat it but you do. One turns into two, then you find yourself stuffed from eating 12 cookies and you haven't eating yet. However, seeing as though later you will be hungrier you go ahead and eat what you have on your tray. Think of this the same way but even more intense in the case of a food addict.

This post reminds me of the post I did a few days ago on internet addiction. IAD (Internet Addiction Disorder) recognizes that people have a defect on their CHRNA4 Gene that causes them to become easily addicted to something such as the internet or gambling or anything that doesn't have an physically addictive substance. Like the internet, food does not have a specific, addictive chemical like (nicotine in cigarettes) that causes it to be a real addiction. Rather, I suppose, it is that mutation in the brain combined with the psychological dependency you noted that lead to food addiction. Could it be that the gene causes all sorts of addiction, and that perhaps, control of that gene will "cure" people from their addiction? Some food for thought (pun intended)!

I think food addiction is definitely a legitimate disorder, just as any addiction can be. There is actually a disorder called Prader-Willi Syndrome that legitimately results in an addiction to food. It's considered an "insatiable appetite" and it's a very real, very serious issue that people have to deal with. Families with members who suffer from Prader-Willi have to lock food away to ensure that it can't be reached. When suffering from Prader-Willi, it's possible for people to actually eat themselves to death. If disorders like that can exist, I see no reason why a food addiction couldn't be real as well.

I feel like you can be addicted to anything honestly. I think it's interesting though to think about why some people have a higher tendency to have addictive behaviors, and whether that stems from genetics, or possibly from the environment in which you grew up. I guess it could also be a combination of both. I know it's been proven that alcoholism is strongly linked to genetics, but it's very possible that other "addictions" derive from watching other's bad habits.

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