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Diet Talk from the Doc

by Dr.Diet, Diet.com's Medical Director
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Food addiction may be a contributing factor to the epidemic of obesity, say scientists who gathered at Yale to discuss the overlooked concept. Both animal and human research studies support the relationship between food addiction and obesity.

Does food "addiction" explain explosion of obesity?
To read the full article, click here:
Does Food Addiction Explain Explosion of Obesity?

Dr. Diet weighs in:

One of my patients started eating baked Cheetos as an afternoon snack, thinking that because it was baked, it was a good choice. What she found though was that she couldn't stop eating the Cheetos; she felt there was something very addictive about that snack food. She has since changed her afternoon snack to either light microwave popcorn or to a piece of fruit and string cheese. I share this story because it's important to learn the foods that you may feel "addicted" to because they seem to foster an unhealthy relationship with food.

Since I began my practice over 2 decades ago, my patients have been saying that they feel "addicted" to various foods ranging from sugar to diet coke to chips or even to pizza.

What this really means is that different people crave different types of foods and for some people, these cravings get quite intense and hard to control.

However, different than when someone is addicted for example to alcohol and has to learn how to live without drinking, abstinence doesn't work when it comes to food since people cannot stop eating.

I still feel we can help people with intense food cravings using behavioral strategies such as keeping their "trigger" foods out of the home and finding healthier ways to satisfy one's cravings. And like in the Cheetos example above, there may be some processed foods that you just need to stay away from.

It is possible that some form of therapy may need to be studied to see if it can help temper the intense food cravings of people who feel "addicted" to not just one food but many foods.

@ 11:47am ET on July 13, 2007
with so many artificial ingredients in the food chain, are there scientific blind studies to determine if it is the chemical additives that trigger the 'craving' and not the food itself?
No one ever says in seriousness that they are addicted to brocolli (for example) but we know that some chemicals trigger the same brain centers that cocaine and heroin trigger. I think studies to determine if the additives in our processed foods affect these same brain centers would be very helpful in determining what causes these 'addictive cravings' that some morbidly obese people experience.

@ 8:18am ET on July 19, 2007
You make an excellent point. There is still so much we need to learn about addictive cravings and their relationship to processed foods.

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