In one of my post popular articles, I dove deep into the mire of just why so many of us are addicted to food. This subject is fascinating on both a molecular and individual level.1, 2, 3, 4 There are so many factors which go into food addiction.5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 And most of them go totally unnoticed, to most people.14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22 The pervasiveness of advertising, the purposely addictive nature of processed foods, and the stressful nature of modern life is just too much for most of us to stay healthy.23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32 Of course, new research has emerged on this topic, since an entire calendar year has passed since I wrote my first piece on food addiction – and some of it is quite startling.33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40,
But perhaps most troublingly, many scientists are still trying to fight the notion that food addiction even exists.41, 42, 43 I’m alarmed, offended and angry about this continued hemming and hawing (no doubt influenced by industry) – and you should be too. In simplest terms, go ask the average person following a Standard American Diet (SAD) if they feel addicted to food. I would bet everything I own that their answer would be a resounding “yes.”44, 45 No one wants to be obese, and unquestionably some level of addiction is underlying our obesity pandemic.46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51 52, 53, 54, 55 Certainly there are also other factors, which I’ve also written about, (like leptin resistance) that happen as a result of poor food choices compounded over time.56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61, 62, 63, 64
It is my generation who is now having to pay for all the poor choices made by prior ones, and now more than 66% of adults are overweight or obese.65 Four years ago researchers knew that “there are a number of shared neural and hormonal pathways…that may help researchers discover why certain individuals continue to overeat despite health and other consequences”.66 And yet, some scientists refuse to even acknowledge people are addicted to food! It is maddening.
The results of food addiction are happening here and now.67, 68 We see them every day on the way to work, at the store, in society, and even glamorized in popular media. Certainly, no one should be ‘fat shamed’ – but we shouldn’t be celebrating obesity either. Food addiction is just as sad as drug addiction – it is just destructive over a longer period of time, rather than acutely.69, 70, 71 As science shows, the same neurobiological pathways that are implicated in drug abuse also modulate food consumption.72, 73
Or how about the scientific paper which showed that Oreo cookies were as addictive as cocaine?74 Again, you will find some scientists hemming and hawing, but the reality, the way the science translates into our everyday lives, shows clear addiction. Do you feel like you need to eat the whole bag of broccoli? Obviously not. For most, vegetables are a chore. But it sure is easy to eat a whole box of Oreos! In fact, many find it hard not to.75 Does this sound addictive to you?
Then we have the case of researchers “curing binge eating” by modulating dopamine receptors.76 Why is this notable? Because by altering the brain’s response to rewarding food, we can stop the cravings/addiction! This really hammers home the point that food can be addictive, and that it is not just an innocent bystander that some people (66% of all adults, if you’re keeping track) can’t seem to stop consuming. If you wants to know more of the deep molecular mechanisms and psychology behind eating, I have also written on this very subject.
And what is one of the most addictive, and least healthy habits in the world? Soda. The less soda you drink, the great weight loss you see.77, 78, 79 Even artificial sweeteners have shown rewarding mechanisms in the brain.80, 81, 82, 83, 84 Interestingly, new research has shown that a hormone deficiency in the brain may also be causing overeating.85, 86, 87 This is in addition to new research which shows that ‘bad’ genes may also play a role in overconsumption.88, 89, 90, 91, 92
Clearly, food addiction is a real problem, which needs to be fixed as soon as possible.93, 94 The future of (a healthy) human world…sort of depends on it. A Paleo diet is one of the best ways to go cold turkey, and stop food addiction in its tracks. By eating nutrient dense foods, sleeping soundly, and managing stress, we are taking proactive steps to avoiding food addiction and obesity.95, 96 97, 98, 99, 100
 Avena NM, Bocarsly ME, Hoebel BG. Animal models of sugar and fat bingeing: relationship to food addiction and increased body weight. Methods Mol Biol. 2012;829:351-65.
 Avena NM, Rada P, Hoebel BG. Sugar bingeing in rats. Curr Protoc Neurosci. 2006;Chapter 9:Unit9.23C.
 Rada P, Avena NM, Hoebel BG. Daily bingeing on sugar repeatedly releases dopamine in the accumbens shell. Neuroscience. 2005;134(3):737-44.
 Blum K, Thanos PK, Gold MS. Dopamine and glucose, obesity, and reward deficiency syndrome. Front Psychol. 2014;5:919.
 Berridge KC. ‘Liking’ and ‘wanting’ food rewards: brain substrates and roles in eating disorders. Physiol Behav. 2009;97(5):537-50.
 Wise RA. Role of brain dopamine in food reward and reinforcement. Philos Trans R Soc Lond, B, Biol Sci. 2006;361(1471):1149-58.
 Murray S, Tulloch A, Gold MS, Avena NM. Hormonal and neural mechanisms of food reward, eating behaviour and obesity. Nat Rev Endocrinol. 2014;10(9):540-52.
 Blum K, Gardner E, Oscar-berman M, Gold M. “Liking” and “wanting” linked to Reward Deficiency Syndrome (RDS): hypothesizing differential responsivity in brain reward circuitry. Curr Pharm Des. 2012;18(1):113-8.
 Swiecicki L, Scinska A, Bzinkowska D, et al. Intensity and pleasantness of sucrose taste in patients with winter depression. Nutr Neurosci. 2014.
 Kellerer M, Lammers R, Fritsche A, et al. Insulin inhibits leptin receptor signalling in HEK293 cells at the level of janus kinase-2: a potential mechanism for hyperinsulinaemia-associated leptin resistance. Diabetologia. 2001;44(9):1125-32.
 Bellisle F, Drewnowski A. Intense sweeteners, energy intake and the control of body weight. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2007;61(6):691-700.
 Caffaro CE, Hirschberg CB. Nucleotide sugar transporters of the Golgi apparatus: from basic science to diseases. Acc Chem Res. 2006;39(11):805-12.
 Willett WC, Ludwig DS. Science souring on sugar. BMJ. 2013;346:e8077.
 Grant JE, Potenza MN, Weinstein A, Gorelick DA. Introduction to behavioral addictions. Am J Drug Alcohol Abuse. 2010;36(5):233-41.
 Greeno CG, Wing RR. Stress-induced eating. Psychol Bull. 1994;115(3):444-64.
 Soubry A, Murphy SK, Wang F, et al. Newborns of obese parents have altered DNA methylation patterns at imprinted genes. Int J Obes (Lond). 2013.
 Kerti L, Witte AV, Winkler A, Grittner U, Rujescu D, Flöel A. Higher glucose levels associated with lower memory and reduced hippocampal microstructure. Neurology. 2013;81(20):1746-52.
 Epstein DH, Shaham Y. Cheesecake-eating rats and the question of food addiction. Nat Neurosci. 2010;13(5):529-31.
 Crane PK, Walker R, Hubbard RA, et al. Glucose levels and risk of dementia. N Engl J Med. 2013;369(6):540-8.
 Walker RW, Dumke KA, Goran MI. Fructose content in popular beverages made with and without high-fructose corn syrup. Nutrition. 2014;30(7-8):928-35.
 Johnson PM, Kenny PJ. Dopamine D2 receptors in addiction-like reward dysfunction and compulsive eating in obese rats. Nat Neurosci. 2010;13(5):635-41.
 Yang Q. Gain weight by “going diet?” Artificial sweeteners and the neurobiology of sugar cravings: Neuroscience 2010. Yale J Biol Med. 2010;83(2):101-8.
 Popkin BM, Nielsen SJ. The sweetening of the world’s diet. Obes Res. 2003;11(11):1325-32.
 Brownell KD, Warner KE. The perils of ignoring history: Big Tobacco played dirty and millions died. How similar is Big Food?. Milbank Q. 2009;87(1):259-94.
 Sharma LL, Teret SP, Brownell KD. The food industry and self-regulation: standards to promote success and to avoid public health failures. Am J Public Health. 2010;100(2):240-6.
 Oliver KG, Huon GF, Zadro L, Williams KD. The role of interpersonal stress in overeating among high and low disinhibitors. Eat Behav. 2001;2(1):19-26.
 Copinschi G. Metabolic and endocrine effects of sleep deprivation. Essent Psychopharmacol. 2005;6(6):341-7.
 Harris JL, Bargh JA, Brownell KD. Priming effects of television food advertising on eating behavior. Health Psychol. 2009;28(4):404-13.
 Knutson KL, Spiegel K, Penev P, Van cauter E. The metabolic consequences of sleep deprivation. Sleep Med Rev. 2007;11(3):163-78.
 Andreyeva T, Long MW, Brownell KD. The impact of food prices on consumption: a systematic review of research on the price elasticity of demand for food. Am J Public Health. 2010;100(2):216-22.
 Gearhardt AN, White MA, Potenza MN. Binge eating disorder and food addiction. Curr Drug Abuse Rev. 2011;4(3):201-7.
 Davis C, Levitan RD, Kaplan AS, Kennedy JL, Carter JC. Food cravings, appetite, and snack-food consumption in response to a psychomotor stimulant drug: the moderating effect of “food-addiction”. Front Psychol. 2014;5:403.
 Dimitrijević I, Popović N, Sabljak V, Škodrić-trifunović V, Dimitrijević N. Food addiction-diagnosis and treatment. Psychiatr Danub. 2015;27(1):101-6.
 Schulte EM, Avena NM, Gearhardt AN. Which foods may be addictive? The roles of processing, fat content, and glycemic load. PLoS ONE. 2015;10(2):e0117959.
 Meule A, Hermann T, Kübler A. Food addiction in overweight and obese adolescents seeking weight-loss treatment. Eur Eat Disord Rev. 2015;23(3):193-8.
 Hardman CA, Rogers PJ, Dallas R, Scott J, Ruddock HK, Robinson E. “Food addiction is real”. The effects of exposure to this message on self-diagnosed food addiction and eating behaviour. Appetite. 2015;91:179-84.
 Schulte EM, Joyner MA, Potenza MN, Grilo CM, Gearhardt AN. Current considerations regarding food addiction. Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2015;17(4):563.
 Piccinni A, Marazziti D, Vanelli F, et al. Food addiction spectrum: a theoretical model from normality to eating and overeating disorders. Curr Med Chem. 2015;22(13):1631-8.
 Pedram P, Sun G. Hormonal and dietary characteristics in obese human subjects with and without food addiction. Nutrients. 2015;7(1):223-38.
 Karlsson HK, Tuominen L, Tuulari JJ, et al. Obesity is associated with decreased μ-opioid but unaltered dopamine D2 receptor availability in the brain. J Neurosci. 2015;35(9):3959-65.
 Hebebrand J, Albayrak Ö, Adan R, et al. “Eating addiction”, rather than “food addiction”, better captures addictive-like eating behavior. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2014;47:295-306.
 Ziauddeen H, Fletcher PC. Is food addiction a valid and useful concept?. Obes Rev. 2013;14(1):19-28.
 Barry D, Clarke M, Petry NM. Obesity and its relationship to addictions: is overeating a form of addictive behavior?. Am J Addict. 2009;18(6):439-51.
 Ogden J, Clementi C. The experience of being obese and the many consequences of stigma. J Obes. 2010;2010
 Fortuna JL. The obesity epidemic and food addiction: clinical similarities to drug dependence. J Psychoactive Drugs. 2012;44(1):56-63.
 Moreira PI. High-sugar diets, type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2013;16(4):440-5.
 Ford ES, Giles WH, Mokdad AH. Increasing prevalence of the metabolic syndrome among u.s. Adults. Diabetes Care. 2004;27(10):2444-9.
 Daly M. Sugars, insulin sensitivity, and the postprandial state. Am J Clin Nutr. 2003;78(4):865S-872S.
 Musselman LP, Fink JL, Narzinski K, et al. A high-sugar diet produces obesity and insulin resistance in wild-type Drosophila. Dis Model Mech. 2011;4(6):842-9.
 Lythgoe A, Roberts C, Madden AM, Rennie KL. Marketing foods to children: a comparison of nutrient content between children’s and non-children’s products. Public Health Nutr. 2013;16(12):2221-30.
 Gallagher EJ, Leroith D, Karnieli E. Insulin resistance in obesity as the underlying cause for the metabolic syndrome. Mt Sinai J Med. 2010;77(5):511-23.
 Gearhardt A, Roberts M, Ashe M. If sugar is addictive…what does it mean for the law?. J Law Med Ethics. 2013;41 Suppl 1:46-9.
 Johnson RK, Appel LJ, Brands M, et al. Dietary sugars intake and cardiovascular health: a scientific statement from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2009;120(11):1011-20.
 Lustig RH, Schmidt LA, Brindis CD. Public health: The toxic truth about sugar. Nature. 2012;482(7383):27-9.
 Avena NM, Rada P, Hoebel BG. Evidence for sugar addiction: behavioral and neurochemical effects of intermittent, excessive sugar intake. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2008;32(1):20-39.
 Myers MG, Cowley MA, Münzberg H. Mechanisms of leptin action and leptin resistance. Annu Rev Physiol. 2008;70:537-56.
 Yates KF, Sweat V, Yau PL, Turchiano MM, Convit A. Impact of metabolic syndrome on cognition and brain: a selected review of the literature. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2012;32(9):2060-7.
 Singh RB, Gupta S, Dherange P, et al. Metabolic syndrome: a brain disease. Can J Physiol Pharmacol. 2012;90(9):1171-83.
 Tiehuis AM, Van der graaf Y, Mali WP, et al. Metabolic syndrome, prediabetes, and brain abnormalities on mri in patients with manifest arterial disease: the SMART-MR study. Diabetes Care. 2014;37(9):2515-21.
 Mauro C, De rosa V, Marelli-berg F, Solito E. Metabolic syndrome and the immunological affair with the blood-brain barrier. Front Immunol. 2014;5:677.
 Agrawal R, Gomez-pinilla F. ‘Metabolic syndrome’ in the brain: deficiency in omega-3 fatty acid exacerbates dysfunctions in insulin receptor signalling and cognition. J Physiol (Lond). 2012;590(Pt 10):2485-99.
 Cai D, Liu T. Inflammatory cause of metabolic syndrome via brain stress and NF-κB. Aging (Albany NY). 2012;4(2):98-115.
 Buijs RM, Kreier F. The metabolic syndrome: a brain disease?. J Neuroendocrinol. 2006;18(9):715-6.
 Zhu S, St-onge MP, Heshka S, Heymsfield SB. Lifestyle behaviors associated with lower risk of having the metabolic syndrome. Metab Clin Exp. 2004;53(11):1503-11.
 Available at: http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-statistics/Pages/overweight-obesity-statistics.aspx. Accessed July 29, 2015.
 Zhang Y, Von deneen KM, Tian J, Gold MS, Liu Y. Food addiction and neuroimaging. Curr Pharm Des. 2011;17(12):1149-57.
 Kanoski SE, Davidson TL. Western diet consumption and cognitive impairment: links to hippocampal dysfunction and obesity. Physiol Behav. 2011;103(1):59-68.
 Sturm R, Hattori A. Morbid obesity rates continue to rise rapidly in the United States. Int J Obes (Lond). 2013;37(6):889-91.
 Schmidt LA. New unsweetened truths about sugar. JAMA Intern Med. 2014;174(4):525-6.
 Ruff JS, Suchy AK, Hugentobler SA, et al. Human-relevant levels of added sugar consumption increase female mortality and lower male fitness in mice. Nat Commun. 2013;4:2245.
 Blaisdell AP, Lau YL, Telminova E, et al. Food quality and motivation: a refined low-fat diet induces obesity and impairs performance on a progressive ratio schedule of instrumental lever pressing in rats. Physiol Behav. 2014;128:220-5.
 Blumenthal DM, Gold MS. Neurobiology of food addiction. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2010;13(4):359-65.
 Volkow ND, Wang GJ, Fowler JS, Telang F. Overlapping neuronal circuits in addiction and obesity: evidence of systems pathology. Philos Trans R Soc Lond, B, Biol Sci. 2008;363(1507):3191-200.
 Levy A, Salamon A, Tucci M, Limebeer CL, Parker LA, Leri F. Co-sensitivity to the incentive properties of palatable food and cocaine in rats; implications for co-morbid addictions. Addict Biol. 2013;18(5):763-73.
 Lenoir M, Serre F, Cantin L, Ahmed SH. Intense sweetness surpasses cocaine reward. PLoS ONE. 2007;2(8):e698.
 Halpern CH, Tekriwal A, Santollo J, et al. Amelioration of binge eating by nucleus accumbens shell deep brain stimulation in mice involves D2 receptor modulation. J Neurosci. 2013;33(17):7122-9.
 Chen L, Appel LJ, Loria C, et al. Reduction in consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages is associated with weight loss: the PREMIER trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009;89(5):1299-306.
 Drewnowski A, Bellisle F. Liquid calories, sugar, and body weight. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007;85(3):651-61.
 Malik VS, Pan A, Willett WC, Hu FB. Sugar-sweetened beverages and weight gain in children and adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Clin Nutr. 2013;98(4):1084-102.
 Cantley LC. Cancer, metabolism, fructose, artificial sweeteners, and going cold turkey on sugar. BMC Biol. 2014;12:8.
 Suez J, Korem T, Zeevi D, et al. Artificial sweeteners induce glucose intolerance by altering the gut microbiota. Nature. 2014.
 Anton SD, Martin CK, Han H, et al. Effects of stevia, aspartame, and sucrose on food intake, satiety, and postprandial glucose and insulin levels. Appetite. 2010;55(1):37-43.
 Swithers SE. Artificial sweeteners produce the counterintuitive effect of inducing metabolic derangements. Trends Endocrinol Metab. 2013;24(9):431-41.
 Direct and indirect cellular effects of aspartame on the brain. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2008;62(4):451.
 Zhiping P. Pang et al. Endogenous Glucagon-like Peptide-1 Suppresses High-Fat Food Intake by Reducing Synaptic Drive onto Mesolimbic Dopamine Neurons. Cell Reports, July 2015.
 Zumoff B. Hormonal abnormalities in obesity. Acta Med Scand Suppl. 1988;723:153-60.
 Wren AM. Gut and hormones and obesity. Front Horm Res. 2008;36:165-81.
 Nadia Micali, Alison E. Field, Janet L. Treasure, David M. Evans. Are obesity risk genes associated with binge eating in adolescence? Obesity, 2015; 23 (8): 1729.
 Stice E, Yokum S, Zald D, Dagher A. Dopamine-based reward circuitry responsivity, genetics, and overeating. Curr Top Behav Neurosci. 2011;6:81-93.
 Grimm ER, Steinle NI. Genetics of eating behavior: established and emerging concepts. Nutr Rev. 2011;69(1):52-60.
 Barry D, Clarke M, Petry NM. Obesity and its relationship to addictions: is overeating a form of addictive behavior?. Am J Addict. 2009;18(6):439-51.
 Fawcett KA, Barroso I. The genetics of obesity: FTO leads the way. Trends Genet. 2010;26(6):266-74.
 Gearhardt AN, Corbin WR. The role of food addiction in clinical research. Curr Pharm Des. 2011;17(12):1140-2.
 Pursey KM, Stanwell P, Gearhardt AN, Collins CE, Burrows TL. The prevalence of food addiction as assessed by the Yale Food Addiction Scale: a systematic review. Nutrients. 2014;6(10):4552-90.
 Kasim-karakas SE, Almario RU, Cunningham W. Effects of protein versus simple sugar intake on weight loss in polycystic ovary syndrome (according to the National Institutes of Health criteria). Fertil Steril. 2009;92(1):262-70.
 Van itallie TB. Dietary fiber and obesity. Am J Clin Nutr. 1978;31(10 Suppl):S43-52.
 Kowalski LM, Bujko J. [Evaluation of biological and clinical potential of paleolithic diet]. Rocz Panstw Zakl Hig. 2012;63(1):9-15.
 Frassetto LA, Schloetter M, Mietus-synder M, Morris RC, Sebastian A. Metabolic and physiologic improvements from consuming a paleolithic, hunter-gatherer type diet. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2009;63(8):947-55.
 Boers I, Muskiet FA, Berkelaar E, et al. Favourable effects of consuming a Palaeolithic-type diet on characteristics of the metabolic syndrome: a randomized controlled pilot-study. Lipids Health Dis. 2014;13:160.
 Konner M, Eaton SB. Paleolithic nutrition: twenty-five years later. Nutr Clin Pract. 2010;25(6):594-602.