'Food addiction' plays major role in obesity epidemic

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Washington, Dec 23 (ANI): Food addiction is a reality in some individuals and should be considered as a major factor while managing the obesity epidemic, according to a new study.

Compulsive and out of control tendency to eat plays a fundamental role in causing obesity, said Dr. Valerie Taylor, an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioural neurosciences at McMaster and director of the Bariatric Surgery Psychiatry Program at St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton and her co-authors

"The concept of addiction is complex, and the delineation of its defining characteristics has fostered considerable debate. Despite a lack of consensus, researchers nevertheless agree that the process involves a compulsive pattern of use, even in the face of negative health and social consequences," wrote the researchers.

Food addiction can be compared to other addictive behaviours, as both food and drugs can cause tolerance, or an increase in the amount required to achieve intoxication or satiety.

Withdrawal symptoms such as mood changes can occur after discontinuing drugs or during dieting.

In addition, after gastric surgery for obesity, a subset of patients exhibit other addictive behaviours.

"The concept of addiction does not negate the role of free will and personal choice. It may, however, provide insight into why a some individuals with obesity continue to struggle," wrote the researchers.

The authors concluded that therapies traditionally applied to the area of addiction might be helpful in managing weight problems, which are often viewed through the same lens.

"The current 'blame' mentality that is often applied to individuals with obesity needs to be re-examined. Although medicine may not yet accept compulsive overeating as an addiction, we cannot ignore evidence highlighting the role played by biologic vulnerability and environmental triggers," wrote the authors.

The study has been published in the latest issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ). (ANI)

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