Monday, March 29, 2010

Addicted to Eating?

As the obesity rate among Americans climbs past 1-in-3 (with over 2-in-3 of us classified as overweight) several initiatives are exploring the nature of our relationship with food..... physically, emotionally and socially. In one study done on rats and published in the research journal Nature Neuroscience, scientists at Scripps Research Institute in Florida concluded that eating a lot of junk food makes you want to eat more junk food. "The animals completely lost control over their eating behavior, the primary hallmark of addiction," said neuroscientist Paul Kenny in a statement describing the work.

Former FDA Commissioner David Kessler, in his 2009 book The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite, says that food is excessively activating the brains of millions of Americans to get them to come back to eat more. He especially blames fat, sugar and salt, combined with effective marketing campaigns, super-sizing of portions and relaxed social mores related to how and where we consume food.

With 3 in 4 Americans scheduled to die of heart disease, cancer or stroke, and with rates of Type II Diabetes soaring (it is now being commonly diagnosed in children as young as 10 years old), maybe it is time to take a hard look at the dietary and lifestyle choices that are largely responsible for our "healthcare crisis". Possibly the most effective way to reduce America's unsustainable heathcare costs would be in invest in helping people to recognize, treat and recover from our addiction to foods that are killing us.

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