Is food addiction real
Written by: Noah Jobin.
We commonly hear many overweight, obese and binge eaters, claim that they are addicted to food. Most commonly, pointing the finger at sugar. However, is food addiction actually a real condition?
No. At least it’s not currently accepted as a valid scientific concept or medical condition as observed by the majority of literature and DSM (Diagnostic & Statical Manual of Mental Disorders)
Sugar, carbs and fats...are the problem?
When sugar, carbs and fats are isolated alone. They are not shown to be problematic foods. However, this isn’t to say that when combined, these foods don’t contribute to “addiction like” behavior in some people.
Contrary to popular myth, sugar has the least amount of addiction like characteristics. While foods like cheeseburgers, pizza, French fries, potatoe chips and cookies have the most. (Markus et al. 2017.)
Most surprisingly is the problematic behavior is observed far less in groups you’d expect to see it in. As little as 5% in the general public, as low as 15% in overweight population and 30% in obese people. What this means is that even if these food can be problematic, these foods don’t inherently cause weight gain or obesity. (Adrian Meule et al. Nutrients. 2014.)
The Mark Haubs Twinkie Diet case study
This can be observed expectational well by the Mark Haubs Twinkie Diet case study. For the duration of this 10 week trial, the nutrition that was consumed was exclusively hyper palatable, hyper processed food that was not only calorically dense but had very low food volume as well.
Additionally, all the specific food items consumed every day were the combination of carbs, fats and sugars. The very same combination shown to be the most problematic or likely to exhibit “addiction like” characteristics.
The outcome of this study? Because calories and portion sizes were controlled for, a calorie deficit was maintained. This resulted in 27 pounds lost. More importantly however, all health markers measured were improved.
BMI reduced from 28.8 to 24.9, a change of overweight to normal. LDL (bad) cholesterol dropped by 20% and HDL (good) cholesterol increased by 20%. While triglycerides levels dropped by 39%.
Focus, focus...quality always
This is not to say food quality doesn’t matter. We should in fact continue to focus on high nutritional foods. However realizing no food is inherently bad and can be enjoyed in moderation without the irrationally fear or development of food phobia.
At the end of the day it’s important to realize the research is just scratching the surface on this topic and more research is needed before we can definitely rule on way or another.
Some people struggle more than others with specific foods and diet types. If you’re one of those people, please seek out help from a trained and qualified professional.