A case of the munchies, taking a bite out of the myth of food addiction:

Courtesy photo.

By Lauren Ebben:

Okay, here’s the thing: America is fat, but so is the rest of the world. So when I first heard about the term ‘food addiction,’ I thought it was a joke. A soft and cushiony concept compared to the stories of drug babies and dirty needles in the media. I don’t understand how something that our bodies needs to survive could be considered an addiction.

Since food addiction is such a new and controversial topic, there haven’t been many studies over it. There isn’t even an official diagnosis. The closest thing is a self-report survey called the Yale Food Addiction Scale (YFAS) that can identify symptoms of a food addict. That being said, it’s a self-report, and no one is ever 100 percent honest with themselves, so how effective is the survey, really?

Even if there was an official diagnosis for a food addiction, what would the treatment be? The root cause of any addiction is different for every person. People can eat when they’re stressed out or sad or even bored, and just like any other addiction, there isn’t a blanket solution that works for everybody. It’s not like a person can just stop eating. Patients who supposedly suffer from a food addiction would probably live in fear of relapsing at every meal.

However, I found some science to this whole thing. A recent study into the brain science of food addiction suggests that, in extreme cases, people who consume massive quantities of sugar might react to, say, a bite from a cheeseburger the same way a drug addict might respond to his/her next hit. Apparent food addicts can even show symptoms of withdrawal if they aren’t eating as much as they usually do.

But, still, there just isn’t enough evidence for me to be thoroughly convinced that food addiction is a serious problem, or even exists outside of a few special cases. Maybe in a few years, when more research has gone into the topic, that opinion will change but until then, like sweet rice, I’m sticking to it.

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