Volume 2 Issue 2

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Page 17 of 31

Page 18 | Abby's Magazine - Our government and the food industry both encourage more "personal responsibility" when it comes to battling the obesity epidemic and its associated diseases. They say people should exercise more self-control, make better choices, avoid over-eating, and reduce their intake of sugar-sweetened drinks and processed food. We are lead to believe there is no good food or bad food— that it's all a matter of balance. This sounds good in theory, except for one thing new discoveries in science prove that industrial, processed, sugar-, fat-, and salt-laden food—food that is made in a plant, rather than grown on a plant, as Michael Pollan would say—is biologically addictive. We blame the fat person. But how can we blame a two- year-old for being fat? How much choice do they have? Researchers from Yale's Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity validated a "food addiction" scale. Here are a few of the points on the scale that are used to determine if you have a food addiction. Does any of this sound familiar? If it does you may be an "industrial food addict." 1. I find that when I start eating certain foods, I end up eating much more than I had planned. 2. Not eating certain types of food or cutting down on certain types of food is something I worry about. 3. I spend a lot of time feeling sluggish or lethargic from overeating. 4. There have been times when I consumed certain foods so often or in such large quantities that I spent time dealing with negative feelings from overeating instead of working, spending time with my family or friends, or engaging in other important activities or recreational activities I enjoy. 5. I kept consuming the same types of food or the same amount of food even though I was having emotional and/or physical problems. 6. Over time, I have found that I need to eat more and more to get the feeling I want, such as reduced negative emotions or increased pleasure. 7. I have had withdrawal symptoms when I cut down or stopped eating certain foods (please do NOT include withdrawal symptoms caused by cutting down on caffeinated beverages such as soda pop, coffee, tea, energy drinks, etc.). For example: Developing physical symptoms, feeling agitated, or feeling anxious. 8. My behavior with respect to food and eating causes significant distress. 9. I experience significant problems in my ability to function effectively (daily routine, job/school, social activities, family activities, health difficulties) because of food and eating. Based on these criteria and others many of us, including most obese children, are "addicted" to industrial food. Here are some of the scientific findings confirming that food can, indeed, be addictive: 1. Sugar stimulates the brain's reward centers through the neurotransmitter dopamine exactly like other addictive drugs. 2. Brain imagining (PET scans) shows that high-sugar and high- fat foods work just like heroin, opium, or morphine in the brain. 3. Brain imaging (PET scans) shows that obese people and drug addicts have lower numbers of dopamine receptors, making them more likely to crave things that boost dopamine. Is Junk Food Addictive? By: Mark Hyman

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