Food addiction is frequently mentioned in the management of obese patients. This concept links the consumption of certain foods to addictive behavior, such as may be caused by drugs or gambling.
Patients with a weight problem often describe themselves as being addicted to food or the victim of food addiction. This term, though not recognized scientifically, is commonly used in the literature on weight loss.
Food addiction theory
If we speak of addiction to food is that in some people, food intake, nutrients or additives activate the same neurobiological systems as those involved in other addictions. This would explain the difficulty in changing dietary behavior. However, do not confuse addiction with other eating disorders such as binge eating, for example. In this case, the person eats in a short time very large amounts of food, usually oily and sweet, in private. It is then confronted with a feeling of embarrassment, guilt and shame as to induce vomiting to relieve himself.
Food addiction should not be confused with binge eating. It resembles bulimia but does not include vomiting. This is why the subjects that are affected are overweight or obese, unlike those making seizures only bulimia. Scientists still link the two conditions, with the addiction to food as a severe subtype of binge eating.
The concept of addiction to food is based on neurobiological findings highlighting similarities between the food making process and addictive behaviors. These discoveries led to the hypothesis that certain foods (especially those high in sugar and / or fat) could create a food addiction. Several neurobiological circuitry involved in food and addictive behaviors have been studied by scientists:
The reward circuit, which is the neurotransmitter dopamine. This is more secreted into the blood when the food is rich and good. The reward of feeling is all the more felt.
The circuit endorphins. These molecules are produced by the brain when it absorbs a drug, sugars or fats. By binding to opioid receptors, endorphins induce a sense of fun. Feeling both felt after taking a psychoactive substance after consuming fatty or sugary foods. Based treatments for example naltrexone, an antagonist molecule endorphins, can treat the patients concerned.
Other molecules, such as serotonin and glutamate, were studied. It has thus been shown that high levels of serotonin results in a reduction of the frequency and intensity of binge eating attacks. Glutamate also improve the rate of occurrence of such crises.
Measuring of food addiction
In addition to the addictive effect, the scientists found that patients with addiction to food needed, as in the case of drug addiction, increase the “doses” of food to get the same effects . Withdrawal signs with anxiety symptoms also appeared in patients following a low sugar meal plan . Researchers at Yale University in the United States wished to measure addiction to food of patients affected by this condition by submitting a questionnaire with 25 items related to them vis-à-vis behavior of food. A meta-analysis of the results shows that 20% of subjects under test have food addiction
Food addiction seems really exist. It remains to be defined for the diagnosis to be recognized. For this, the behavioral processes involved in this type of addiction must now be studied, seeking to establish what is the impact on the subject concerned.