Are we addicted to fattening foods?

Dr. David Kessler, the former FDA Commissioner, has written a book that describes the efforts of food scientists and manufacturers to create irresistible foods.

New works goes further along this line, suggesting that people (especially women) with a family history of alcoholism are more likely to be obese. This suggests that obese people may be more susceptible to the addictive effects of processed food high in sugar/salt/fat.  Indeed, some of the drugs under development for weight loss block the effects of morphine; researchers believe that high fat/sugar/salt foods activate the same receptors in the brain.

The New York Times reports:

Why the change over time? Dr. Grucza says our so-called obesigenic, or obesity-inducing, food environment has changed in the decade between the two surveys. The most likely culprit, he said, “is the nature of the food we eat, and its tendency to appeal to the sorts of reward systems, which are the parts of the brain implicated in addiction.”

Certain foods — loaded with sugar, salt and fat and specially formulated to appeal to consumers — might be cues that trigger overeating in people with the predisposition for addiction, appealing to the primitive reward centers of the brain, and reinforcing the addictive behavior. These types of foods, which the former Food and Drug Administration commissioner Dr. David Kessler has called “hyperpalatable,” may be more reinforcing of overeating than, say, green vegetables, Dr. Grucza said, and they’re more commonly and easily available than they were in the past.

I recommend Dr. Kessler’s book, “The End of Overeating,” highly!

For me, then, what has worked is to try to ABSTAIN from dangerous foods.  Out of sight, out of mind.  In some ways, this is an approach similar to Alcoholics Anonymous, which suggests that alcoholics not drink at all.  I know that many will object to such an approach, and will want an occasional “treat;” but this is what helped me lose 125 lbs.

Dr John Ellis MD

Board-certified anesthesiologist, with expertise in cardiovascular anesthesia and the implications of obesity and sleep apnea in anesthesia. See for professional information. Dr. Ellis has used the strategies in here to: (1) lose 120 lbs over 18 months, (2) stop all antihypertensive medicines, and (3) no longer need CPAP treatment for sleep apnea.

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