Are You Addicted to Tasty Foods?

Ninety-five percent of people who lose weight through dieting and exercise gain it back within a year. Weight programs such as Nutrisystem, Jenny Craig, SlimFast and Weight Watchers are goldmines because people return to them again and again after their long-term weight control programs fail. Metabolism is tightly regulated to balance energy and nutrient requirements with food intake through centers in the brain that control hunger and satiety (fullness). Sixty-nine percent of Americans are overweight or obese, so the system doesn’t work the way it should. Many people are addicted to food. A literature review by Jose Lerma-Cabrera and co-workers from the Universidad Autónoma de Chile in Santiago, Chile found that tasty foods are addictive like street drugs. These foods increase dopamine levels in the brain. Dopamine is a stimulant that triggers craving and obsessive thoughts. Chronic dopamine stimulation upsets the balance between hunger and satiety, which leads to overeating— regardless of the negative consequences. People can’t cut down, even though they want to. As with drug addiction, food addiction is a serious and difficult problem with no easy solution. (Nutrition Journal, 15: 5, 2016)

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