Food Addictions Scientifically Similar to Drug Addictions

New data shows similarities in these addictive behaviors.

I've always contended that much of the reason why our nation is morbidly obese in addition to our culture of fast food and lack of exercise, is that we don't deal with the root of the problem. The emotional aspect of serious overeating has to be dealt with in order to combat the problem. And new data shows this to be true.

According to Food Navigator, research published in Archives of General Psychiatry, found that people with addictive eating behaviors "appear to have greater neural activity in regions of the brain that are associated with substance dependence, including elevated activation of reward circuitry in response to food cues, and reduced activation of inhibitory regions in response to food intake."

Chemicals released in the brain are also similar.

“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” said the researchers, led by Ashley Gearhardt of Yale University in Connecticut.

Food Addictions and Obesity

A study published by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and reported on MindBodyGreen said that not only is America is still the fattest country in the world, we're only getting fatter. Three out of four Americans are projected to be overweight or obese within 10 years and that's not to say we're not trying to lose the weight. Consider that about 45 million of us diet each year and we spend between $1 and 2 billion per year on weight loss programs.

This is why fad diets, weight loss surgeries and drugs can be difficult for me to swallow. Especially considering that weight issues and addictions are often largely psychological and if a person is only dealt with on a surface level, results can't stick. What do you think? Is it the food or is there more to it?

Sara Novak is a writer specializing in food, travel, and nature for Planet Green and TreeHugger.
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