More Research Needed on Food Addiction

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More Research Needed on Food Addiction

The term addiction is often associated with drugs and alcohol, but there are many more substances that one can become addicted to. This week, the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse released new information on food addiction. The organization reports on symptoms and characteristics of food addiction, relating it to other substance use disorders.

The report defines food addiction as “a clinically significant physical and psychological dependence on high fat, high sugar, and highly palatable foods.” An estimated 5 percent of the population has a food addiction. This percentage is higher in those already diagnosed with an eating disorder. And although many people with a food addiction are overweight, obesity does not equal a food addiction.

Like drugs and alcohol, food can be addictive, especially foods that are high in calories, sugar and fat. These ingredients stimulate award regions of the brain and promote craving and further consumption, just like other addictive substances. If an individual with a food addiction stops eating these symptoms, they even experience withdrawal.

The report states that there are genetic and psychological factors associated with food addiction. However, there are still a lot of unknowns when it comes to this addiction, thus the need for more research.