Myfitnesspal

Message Boards Debate: Health and Fitness
You are currently viewing the message boards in:

Why Is Food "Addiction" So Controversial?

1234689

Replies

  • janejellyrolljanejellyroll Member, Premium Posts: 24,916 Member Member, Premium Posts: 24,916 Member
    This article was published in 2013 when gambling was classified as addiction in the DSM-5. It explains what happens to the brain when someone has a drug addiction, and how gambling shows the same changes to the brain: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-the-brain-gets-addicted-to-gambling/

    To sum up:
    -Something that qualifies as an addiction doesn't just light up your dopamine receptors, it floods them. Drugs result in 10 times as much dopamine being dispersed as sex or food.
    -Your brain eventually adapts to being so flooded with dopamine, so it starts to take more and more of the substance to achieve the same high. With gambling, this meant bigger and/or more frequent monetary risks were being taken.
    -The neural pathways between the reward center and the prefrontal cortex weaken, resulting in people having less impulse control.
    -Treatment methods used for drug addicts have been effective for gambling addicts. These methods are NOT as effective for other compulsive behaviors like kleptomania or pyromania.

    I haven't been keeping a close eye on recent studies for food/eating addiction, so I don't know what consensus the scientific community is leaning toward right now. I might go digging into it when I get some time. But it seems plausible to me that eating addiction may exist, and that some people do get dopamine floods when they eat, which eventually causes them to eat far too much to the detriment of their health. Given that trauma can also reshape our brain, perhaps an eating addiction is made possible because of trauma? Idk, smarter people than me are actively studying these things, and I hope someday we have a much clearer idea of what's going on for people who massively overeat and how to treat it. It seems ridiculous to me that single foods like cheese or chocolate would somehow result in 10 times as much dopamine being released as eating steak or strawberries.

    To answer the OP's original question, I guess I can get worked up about this subject from time to time. It gets really frustrating to see people presenting their anecdotal evidence like it's proven science. I am very flexible to my mind being changed by research done with good methodology, with the same conclusions reached in other studies. Your personal narrative that eating a cookie makes you want 100 cookies? Not scientific enough for me to be convinced.

    So this means I don't have an addiction to puppies because I still get the feels over one cute puppy, and I haven't worked up to needing 10 puppies for my fix?



    sqbxyajy49a1.png

    I mean, one puppy works, but who is going to turn down time cuddling ten puppies (that someone else is training and housebreaking!).
  • ndj1979ndj1979 Member Posts: 29,145 Member Member Posts: 29,145 Member
    Slacker16 wrote: »
    My personal opinion on food addiction has been stated multiple times already (no addictive foods, overeating could, in some cases, be likened to a process addiction) so I'll leave that dead horse alone, but about the "no one robs convenience stores for donuts" comment... it's a funny witticism, but that's all it is.

    I mean, it's true, but then again I'll take a wild guess that most of us don't live in societies where food is scarce. Back when food was scarce, the general attitude was a bit different. Ever wonder why gluttony was one of the seven deadly sins (and there were similar taboos in most pre-modern cultures)?

    Scarcity does not equal addiction...
  • ndj1979ndj1979 Member Posts: 29,145 Member Member Posts: 29,145 Member
    ndj1979 wrote: »
    Slacker16 wrote: »
    My personal opinion on food addiction has been stated multiple times already (no addictive foods, overeating could, in some cases, be likened to a process addiction) so I'll leave that dead horse alone, but about the "no one robs convenience stores for donuts" comment... it's a funny witticism, but that's all it is.

    I mean, it's true, but then again I'll take a wild guess that most of us don't live in societies where food is scarce. Back when food was scarce, the general attitude was a bit different. Ever wonder why gluttony was one of the seven deadly sins (and there were similar taboos in most pre-modern cultures)?

    Scarcity does not equal addiction...

    A bit off-topic:

    I recently read a book about WWII and food and was surprised to learn that a popular complaint from American soldiers during the war was that their meals were too focused on sweet stuff and they actually wanted LESS sugar. While American soldiers overall were not in a state of privation compared to soldiers from the USSR or Japan, it still was a situation of relative food scarcity. Things like candy were regular staples for soldiers in the field and overall, they seemed to hate relying on it long-term. What soldiers raved about when they could get them were fresh vegetables, fresh milk, non-canned/dried meat (although the type of meat also mattered -- American soldiers in the Pacific hated mutton, which Australia supplied for them in abundance), and eggs.

    In most nations, meat and grain were the foods that people seemed to miss the most. While sugar rationing wasn't popular, limiting it didn't seem to trigger the deep discontent when people felt when their access to more substantial foods were limited. In multiple countries, decisions about food production and rationing were based specifically on what leaders felt would trigger political unrest: the foods focused on varied by country, but they were all things like meat, bread, and rice, as well as cooking fats. Sugar was never a focus. If sugar addiction is real and will provoke crime and violence if access is limited, the experience of WWII shows us that it apparently didn't provoke any activity that was notable then, the last widespread experience of almost global scarcity that humans experienced.

    When the war was over and widespread access to sugar was restored, global sugar consumption did skyrocket. So it's very clear that people enjoy sugar and will eat it abundantly when they get the chance. But when food is truly scarce, it seems like our cravings get very practical. We want the foods that will most efficiently nourish us, like milk and eggs. We want the staple foods that serve as the basis for meals in our society, like rice or bread. When access to fat is limited, we crave that and it becomes difficult for many people to eat enough to prevent weight loss even if there are enough carbohydrates to meet energy needs.

    Sugar craving appears to be almost like a luxury, something that kicks in when our other dietary needs are being met.

    interesting...thanks..
  • lynn_glenmontlynn_glenmont Member Posts: 8,665 Member Member Posts: 8,665 Member
    AnnPT77 wrote: »
    ndj1979 wrote: »
    Slacker16 wrote: »
    My personal opinion on food addiction has been stated multiple times already (no addictive foods, overeating could, in some cases, be likened to a process addiction) so I'll leave that dead horse alone, but about the "no one robs convenience stores for donuts" comment... it's a funny witticism, but that's all it is.

    I mean, it's true, but then again I'll take a wild guess that most of us don't live in societies where food is scarce. Back when food was scarce, the general attitude was a bit different. Ever wonder why gluttony was one of the seven deadly sins (and there were similar taboos in most pre-modern cultures)?

    Scarcity does not equal addiction...

    A bit off-topic:

    I recently read a book about WWII and food and was surprised to learn that a popular complaint from American soldiers during the war was that their meals were too focused on sweet stuff and they actually wanted LESS sugar. While American soldiers overall were not in a state of privation compared to soldiers from the USSR or Japan, it still was a situation of relative food scarcity. Things like candy were regular staples for soldiers in the field and overall, they seemed to hate relying on it long-term. What soldiers raved about when they could get them were fresh vegetables, fresh milk, non-canned/dried meat (although the type of meat also mattered -- American soldiers in the Pacific hated mutton, which Australia supplied for them in abundance), and eggs.

    In most nations, meat and grain were the foods that people seemed to miss the most. While sugar rationing wasn't popular, limiting it didn't seem to trigger the deep discontent when people felt when their access to more substantial foods were limited. In multiple countries, decisions about food production and rationing were based specifically on what leaders felt would trigger political unrest: the foods focused on varied by country, but they were all things like meat, bread, and rice, as well as cooking fats. Sugar was never a focus. If sugar addiction is real and will provoke crime and violence if access is limited, the experience of WWII shows us that it apparently didn't provoke any activity that was notable then, the last widespread experience of almost global scarcity that humans experienced.

    When the war was over and widespread access to sugar was restored, global sugar consumption did skyrocket. So it's very clear that people enjoy sugar and will eat it abundantly when they get the chance. But when food is truly scarce, it seems like our cravings get very practical. We want the foods that will most efficiently nourish us, like milk and eggs. We want the staple foods that serve as the basis for meals in our society, like rice or bread. When access to fat is limited, we crave that and it becomes difficult for many people to eat enough to prevent weight loss even if there are enough carbohydrates to meet energy needs.

    Sugar craving appears to be almost like a luxury, something that kicks in when our other dietary needs are being met.

    I do think that's interesting and insightful. I'd observe, though, partly as counterpoint, that humans often prefer a way of eating that they're accustomed to (the mutton issue is a case in point), especially in situations where comfort-maximizing is a priority.

    A lot of those American GIs would've been farm boys, at that time, and even the city kids more accustomed to a diet centered around "fresh vegetables, fresh milk, non-canned/dried meat ". They weren't accustomed to eating lots of sugar. My dad was that age group (medically rejected for enlistment) and a couple of his brothers served.

    In their farm life, sugar was often pretty restricted - for poor mostly subsistance-farming folks an optional store-sourced thing, that ran out when money was tight. Honey was somewhat scarce, maple syrup low yield and high effort
    . Veggies could be grown, meat could be grown or hunted, milk came straight from the cow. Those were the commoner foods. For store purchases, flour would be more important than sugar, for those that didn't grow & grind their own wheat.

    My dad was a city boy before enlisting in the Army during WWII. At the beginning of a Europe to Pacific voyage on a Navy troop transport vessel, it was discovered that there was a weevil infestation in the flour that would be used in all the baked goods they would be eating for the next few months (bread, rolls, pancakes, whatever). So he and a buddy hit the PX or commissary or whatever it would have been called on a Navy transport ship, and spent all their cash on chocolate bars, pretty much wiping out the entire supply, not because they were sweet, but because they were ready to eat and, relatively speaking, nonperishable, at least for the duration of their sea voyage.

    He said they were pretty darn sick of chocolate bars before too long, and that the other GIs who hadn't cornered the market on chocolate pretty rapidly progressed from trying to pick the weevils out of their bread to not bothering. Just extra calories and protein, after all.
  • AnnPT77AnnPT77 Member, Premium Posts: 18,926 Member Member, Premium Posts: 18,926 Member
    AnnPT77 wrote: »
    ndj1979 wrote: »
    Slacker16 wrote: »
    My personal opinion on food addiction has been stated multiple times already (no addictive foods, overeating could, in some cases, be likened to a process addiction) so I'll leave that dead horse alone, but about the "no one robs convenience stores for donuts" comment... it's a funny witticism, but that's all it is.

    I mean, it's true, but then again I'll take a wild guess that most of us don't live in societies where food is scarce. Back when food was scarce, the general attitude was a bit different. Ever wonder why gluttony was one of the seven deadly sins (and there were similar taboos in most pre-modern cultures)?

    Scarcity does not equal addiction...

    A bit off-topic:

    I recently read a book about WWII and food and was surprised to learn that a popular complaint from American soldiers during the war was that their meals were too focused on sweet stuff and they actually wanted LESS sugar. While American soldiers overall were not in a state of privation compared to soldiers from the USSR or Japan, it still was a situation of relative food scarcity. Things like candy were regular staples for soldiers in the field and overall, they seemed to hate relying on it long-term. What soldiers raved about when they could get them were fresh vegetables, fresh milk, non-canned/dried meat (although the type of meat also mattered -- American soldiers in the Pacific hated mutton, which Australia supplied for them in abundance), and eggs.

    In most nations, meat and grain were the foods that people seemed to miss the most. While sugar rationing wasn't popular, limiting it didn't seem to trigger the deep discontent when people felt when their access to more substantial foods were limited. In multiple countries, decisions about food production and rationing were based specifically on what leaders felt would trigger political unrest: the foods focused on varied by country, but they were all things like meat, bread, and rice, as well as cooking fats. Sugar was never a focus. If sugar addiction is real and will provoke crime and violence if access is limited, the experience of WWII shows us that it apparently didn't provoke any activity that was notable then, the last widespread experience of almost global scarcity that humans experienced.

    When the war was over and widespread access to sugar was restored, global sugar consumption did skyrocket. So it's very clear that people enjoy sugar and will eat it abundantly when they get the chance. But when food is truly scarce, it seems like our cravings get very practical. We want the foods that will most efficiently nourish us, like milk and eggs. We want the staple foods that serve as the basis for meals in our society, like rice or bread. When access to fat is limited, we crave that and it becomes difficult for many people to eat enough to prevent weight loss even if there are enough carbohydrates to meet energy needs.

    Sugar craving appears to be almost like a luxury, something that kicks in when our other dietary needs are being met.

    I do think that's interesting and insightful. I'd observe, though, partly as counterpoint, that humans often prefer a way of eating that they're accustomed to (the mutton issue is a case in point), especially in situations where comfort-maximizing is a priority.

    A lot of those American GIs would've been farm boys, at that time, and even the city kids more accustomed to a diet centered around "fresh vegetables, fresh milk, non-canned/dried meat ". They weren't accustomed to eating lots of sugar. My dad was that age group (medically rejected for enlistment) and a couple of his brothers served.

    In their farm life, sugar was often pretty restricted - for poor mostly subsistance-farming folks an optional store-sourced thing, that ran out when money was tight. Honey was somewhat scarce, maple syrup low yield and high effort
    . Veggies could be grown, meat could be grown or hunted, milk came straight from the cow. Those were the commoner foods. For store purchases, flour would be more important than sugar, for those that didn't grow & grind their own wheat.

    My dad was a city boy before enlisting in the Army during WWII. At the beginning of a Europe to Pacific voyage on a Navy troop transport vessel, it was discovered that there was a weevil infestation in the flour that would be used in all the baked goods they would be eating for the next few months (bread, rolls, pancakes, whatever). So he and a buddy hit the PX or commissary or whatever it would have been called on a Navy transport ship, and spent all their cash on chocolate bars, pretty much wiping out the entire supply, not because they were sweet, but because they were ready to eat and, relatively speaking, nonperishable, at least for the duration of their sea voyage.

    He said they were pretty darn sick of chocolate bars before too long, and that the other GIs who hadn't cornered the market on chocolate pretty rapidly progressed from trying to pick the weevils out of their bread to not bothering. Just extra calories and protein, after all.

    My parents were much tougher, sturdier than I am. Their parents, I think, even moreso.
  • PsychgrrlPsychgrrl Member Posts: 3,029 Member Member Posts: 3,029 Member
    For me, it’s not a diagnosable addiction. Rather, we focus on problem behaviors around food and eating patterns. Those are totally a thing. Many of us have them to one degree or another.

    And the full range of destructive addictive behaviors are not present in folxs struggling with food as they are with those who have alcohol, drug, or gambling addictions.
  • PsychgrrlPsychgrrl Member Posts: 3,029 Member Member Posts: 3,029 Member
    MsCzar wrote: »
    Technically, cocaine isn't physically addictive, but no one much argues the semantics there. For a cocaine user, the dopamine rush can become an all-consuming compulsion. Being able to survive without a craved substance doesn't define addiction and that argument defies all logic. IMO, anything which lights up the pleasure centers of the brain and results in an irresistible obsession for more more more despite any negative consequences constitutes an addiction.

    A dopamine reaction alone does not an addiction make. If sugar really was the source of the addiction, for example, people would hide in their basements, closets, or cars shoveling spoonfuls of it down. Because when you’re addicted, you swallow/snort anything close to the source of whatever’s got you in it’s power. I’ve had drug addicts huff aerosol whipped cream and cleaners. I’ve had alcoholics chug NyQuil. But it’s usually not just sugar for people with food issues. It’s the hyper palatable sweet or fries treats that also have a high fat content.

    People addicted to drugs/alcohol/gambling destroy their finances, jobs, health, families, lives, all in the pursuit of their addiction.

    Some of the paths and techniques to help people recover from food issues (overeating, not under-eating/anorexia/etc.) are similar to those that help others overcome addiction. And that can be said about therapies to help people move past other behaviors they’d like to change. But that doesn’t make all those behaviors addictions.
  • PsychgrrlPsychgrrl Member Posts: 3,029 Member Member Posts: 3,029 Member
    J72FIT wrote: »
    I also want to add, wether or not it is a clinical addiction really does not matter. What matters is how it feels to the individual going through it...

    It does when you’re treating it.
  • PsychgrrlPsychgrrl Member Posts: 3,029 Member Member Posts: 3,029 Member
    This article was published in 2013 when gambling was classified as addiction in the DSM-5. It explains what happens to the brain when someone has a drug addiction, and how gambling shows the same changes to the brain: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-the-brain-gets-addicted-to-gambling/

    To sum up:
    -Something that qualifies as an addiction doesn't just light up your dopamine receptors, it floods them. Drugs result in 10 times as much dopamine being dispersed as sex or food.
    -Your brain eventually adapts to being so flooded with dopamine, so it starts to take more and more of the substance to achieve the same high. With gambling, this meant bigger and/or more frequent monetary risks were being taken.
    -The neural pathways between the reward center and the prefrontal cortex weaken, resulting in people having less impulse control.
    -Treatment methods used for drug addicts have been effective for gambling addicts. These methods are NOT as effective for other compulsive behaviors like kleptomania or pyromania.

    I haven't been keeping a close eye on recent studies for food/eating addiction, so I don't know what consensus the scientific community is leaning toward right now. I might go digging into it when I get some time. But it seems plausible to me that eating addiction may exist, and that some people do get dopamine floods when they eat, which eventually causes them to eat far too much to the detriment of their health. Given that trauma can also reshape our brain, perhaps an eating addiction is made possible because of trauma? Idk, smarter people than me are actively studying these things, and I hope someday we have a much clearer idea of what's going on for people who massively overeat and how to treat it. It seems ridiculous to me that single foods like cheese or chocolate would somehow result in 10 times as much dopamine being released as eating steak or strawberries.

    To answer the OP's original question, I guess I can get worked up about this subject from time to time. It gets really frustrating to see people presenting their anecdotal evidence like it's proven science. I am very flexible to my mind being changed by research done with good methodology, with the same conclusions reached in other studies. Your personal narrative that eating a cookie makes you want 100 cookies? Not scientific enough for me to be convinced.

    Current thought and research has tended to examine how internet use may be classified (unrelated to online gambling). Particularly as it relates to gaming. It’s actually quite interesting considering some people make their living by gaming, and quite a lucrative one. The culture has shifted a lot in the last decade. Pots of $100,000 and people wearing diapers so they don’t have to be AFK (away from keyboard) for days at a time.

    If the body of research continues to grow, internet use may show up in a future revision of the DSM.
  • 33gail3333gail33 Member Posts: 418 Member Member Posts: 418 Member
    I think it is controversial because it hasn't been definitively studied yet - even among professionals there isn't agreement on it. Even for alcohol addiction there isn't really a consistent "diagnosis" of who has it and who doesn't, it is subjective as to who fits the criteria. Although at a certain stage of alcoholism there will be physical dependence and withdrawal can cause death.

    Having seen the downward life path of someone who is genuinely addicted to alcohol I can see how people are hesitant to put food addiction into the same category. I have POA for a family member who is a late stage alcoholic and it isn't pretty, it is hard to imagine food causing that same kind of destruction. But maybe it can happen, who knows.

    The definition I was given is this: "If substance use causes significant problems in someone's life, such as health issues, disability, and/or not meeting responsibilities at work, home, or school, they may have a substance use disorder." I think that food could potentially meet that criteria, although I have never seen it personally. Physical addiction isn't required to qualify as substance use disorder.

    I don't think the fact that "I can quit eating sugar" tells us anything really, lots of people quit drinking alcohol too. That doesn't mean that alcohol isn't an addictive substance.

    I think the main sticking point for most people is that we all need food to survive, so how could it possibly be addictive. We can't withdraw from it (without death anyway). It's a complicated question.

    Here is an analysis I found interesting : https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5946262/

    "The results of the current systematic review generally support the validity of food addiction as a diagnostic construct, particularly as it relates to foods high in added sweeteners and refined ingredients. The majority of studies in the current review reported evidence for symptoms related to neurological changes and impaired control, with fewer studies evaluating preoccupation, chronicity, relapse, social impairment, and risky use. Behavioral and substance-related aspects of food addiction appear to be intertwined, but we suggest that the substance (highly-palatable food) component may be more salient to the diagnostic classification of this phenomenon than the behavior (eating). We propose that the food addiction construct merits serious attention in regard to its presentation, prevention, and treatment in humans."
    edited February 21
  • ninerbuffninerbuff Member, Greeter, Premium Posts: 44,563 Member Member, Greeter, Premium Posts: 44,563 Member
    33gail33 wrote: »
    I think it is controversial because it hasn't been definitively studied yet - even among professionals there isn't agreement on it. Even for alcohol addiction there isn't really a consistent "diagnosis" of who has it and who doesn't, it is subjective as to who fits the criteria. Although at a certain stage of alcoholism there will be physical dependence and withdrawal can cause death.

    Having seen the downward life path of someone who is genuinely addicted to alcohol I can see how people are hesitant to put food addiction into the same category. I have POA for a family member who is a late stage alcoholic and it isn't pretty, it is hard to imagine food causing that same kind of destruction. But maybe it can happen, who knows.

    The definition I was given is this: "If substance use causes significant problems in someone's life, such as health issues, disability, and/or not meeting responsibilities at work, home, or school, they may have a substance use disorder." I think that food could potentially meet that criteria, although I have never seen it personally. Physical addiction isn't required to qualify as substance use disorder.

    I don't think the fact that "I can quit eating sugar" tells us anything really, lots of people quit drinking alcohol too. That doesn't mean that alcohol isn't an addictive substance.

    I think the main sticking point for most people is that we all need food to survive, so how could it possibly be addictive. We can't withdraw from it (without death anyway). It's a complicated question.

    Here is an analysis I found interesting : https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5946262/

    "The results of the current systematic review generally support the validity of food addiction as a diagnostic construct, particularly as it relates to foods high in added sweeteners and refined ingredients. The majority of studies in the current review reported evidence for symptoms related to neurological changes and impaired control, with fewer studies evaluating preoccupation, chronicity, relapse, social impairment, and risky use. Behavioral and substance-related aspects of food addiction appear to be intertwined, but we suggest that the substance (highly-palatable food) component may be more salient to the diagnostic classification of this phenomenon than the behavior (eating). We propose that the food addiction construct merits serious attention in regard to its presentation, prevention, and treatment in humans."
    Agree here. You can cut back on sugar and be okay. If you're an alcoholic, cocaine addict, smoker, etc. "cutting back" isn't in the answer. It's usually going to be CUT OUT. Which is why I believe food "addiction" is more of a behavioral issue than and addiction issue.

    A.C.E. Certified Personal and Group Fitness Trainer
    IDEA Fitness member
    Kickboxing Certified Instructor
    Been in fitness for 30 years and have studied kinesiology and nutrition

    img
Sign In or Register to comment.