Food addiction linked to sugary cravings

Students fill the GUC at lunch to eat a variety of foods offered. New research indicates that eating food can become an addiction, much like a drug addiction.

“Food addiction can be compared to a drug addiction,” Beverly Hostetler, RN, said. “A person with a food addiction becomes psychologically and physically dependent on food.” reports that people with food addictions may be more likely to consume sugary foods. As a society, we may be getting more and more dependent on foods for happiness.

Usually, though, a person can tell if they’re addicted to food.

“The person has continuous cravings and eats food continuously,” said Brooke Hamm, RN. “When this occurs, the person is at risk of becoming morbidly obese, which can lead to serious health issues such as heart disease and Type II diabetes.”

So while there’s little doubt that there is a link between obesity and unhealthy eating, there are some who debate whether or not we should blame our sugar cravings and eating binges on a psychological disorder.

Ashley N. Gearhardt, currently a doctoral student at the University of Yale, reports in an online article that people who exhibit tendencies towards uncontrollable food addictions “also appear to show the same pattern of brain activity as we would see in other addictions.”

Hosteler believes that food addiction should be treated like any other addiction.

“A person who is suspected of having a food addiction should seek professional help,” said Hosteler.

A study at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York revealed that rats given sugary foods and foods high in saturated fat and calories had problems responding to leptin. Leptin helps regulate appetite, and as the rats ate more and more, they began to feel less and less full. So the more obese they got, the hungrier they were.

Binge eating is an aspect of food disorders, wherein a person cannot help but consume unusually large amounts of food., in its definition of binge eating, says that most people overeat on occasion, but that binge eating, in particular, is “the most common of all eating disorders.” They also advise that if someone is experiencing the symptoms of an eating disorder, they should seek help.