A new and important label has made its way into the national struggle against obesity thanks to a psychiatrist and obesity researcher at Canada’s McMaster University.
While the causes of obesity remain complex, it has become clear that chronic overeating is not only a primary culprit but, especially when it is compulsive and out of control, it can be classified as a “food addiction.”
In the December 2009 edition of the Canadian Medical Association Journal, Dr. Valerie Taylor, an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral neurosciences at McMaster and director of the Bariatric Surgery Psychiatry program at St. Joseph’s Healthcare (Hamilton, Ontario) argues that food addiction in some individuals may be a reality and needs to be considered in the management of weight problems.
At present, there’s considerable debate about how to define “food addiction” and despite a lack of consensus on a definition, researchers agree that it involves a compulsive pattern of use, even in the face of negative health and social consequences – part of the standard definition of most addictions.
Ultimately, as with addictive drugs, individuals develop a tolerance – they need an increased amount of a drug or food in order to achieve the desired high or feel full. And, as with withdrawal from drugs, when individuals begin to limit or modify their food intake – even with only a day or two of dieting, the food addict experiences withdrawal symptoms including mood changes.
Dr. Taylor argues that the concept of addiction may help to provide some insight into why certain obese individuals continue overeating and are unable to accomplish appropriate weight loss.
It is important to understand that the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a division of the US National Institutes of Health, defines addiction as a disease of the brain. Dr. Taylor’s observations and the concept of addictive overeating may lead to the development of new counseling and medical techniques that may help obese individuals and food addicts to achieve control over their addictive processes. In the meantime, individuals who believe they are addicted to food may benefit from participating in a traditional 12-Step program and from Cognitive Behavioral counseling.
At the Brain Training Centers of Florida we are assisting people with breaking the addiction by reducing their urges and cravings. Utilizing our emergent technology of brain wave optimization with real time balancing we have been successful in assisting people with recognizing detrimental brain patterns and changing them. This process provides enhanced motivation and desire to eat right and exercise.