Is Obesity an Addiction?

Think about your favorite food. Now, imagine being stranded on an island and having just that to eat. At first, it would be a dream come true, but after a while, you might begin to hate it. Despite this, since you will get hungry, your body will still want the food because it knows that you need it to survive.

This is the subtle difference between enjoying something and wanting it. Within this separation resides the concept of an addiction.

A cornerstone of an addiction is wanting what you are addicted to and not being able to stop, despite no longer enjoying it. This explains why individuals suffering from addiction often relapse despite their best efforts to curb their addiction. They realize that they don’t enjoy it anymore and that they shouldn’t continue, and yet they cannot help themselves.

In the past decade, science has been expanding what behaviors it categorizes as addictive, however, some are still debated, like obesity, which has been a growing problem.

Recent research has found that, much like people suffering from addiction, people who are obese feel a want to indulge but do not necessarily enjoy doing so. This suggests that their drive to overeat stems from compulsion, and not from enjoyment. This is a telltale sign of addiction-like behavior.

However, classifying obesity as an addiction is a highly contested subject because there are many other internal and external factors that affect our susceptibility to gaining weight.

Internally, genes predispose some to gain more weight than others

Externally, our weight is influenced by childhood eating habits, as well as the availability of high-fat and sugar-rich foods and the degree to which we consume them.

Therefore, generalizing all people who develop obesity as being addicted to food could be problematic. What if someone was, for example, simply genetically predisposed to gaining weight? It is a mistake to broadly categorize obesity as stemming from addiction.

However, the idea that obesity can be caused by addiction is not common knowledge. How would life change if it were?

Well, the ever-growing obesity rates (about 30% obesity and 30% overweight worldwide) would garner much more attention than they currently do.

In the context of conventional addiction, that would be akin to a third of the population being addicted to alcohol and another third abusing it.

To remedy this, there would likely be policy changes such as implementation of sugar and fat taxes (like we have for nicotine and alcohol) and maybe even some banned foods if they were deemed too addictive or fattening.

There may also be restrictions on unhealthy food advertisements, specifically those targeting youths. It would be quite a different world from the one in which we are living today and our relationship with food would be revolutionized.

However, seeing as how no country has managed to reduce their obesity rates in the past 30 years, these policies may become necessary to end future obesity.

Created By
Thomas Pfefer


Created with images by Joiarib Morales Uc - "untitled image" • Timo Volz - "untitled image" • Paweł Czerwiński - "untitled image" • Sara Kurfeß - "untitled image" • Ashley Green - "untitled image" • Jordan Whitfield - "untitled image" • TeroVesalainen - "weight scale weigh in" • Bernard Hermant - "untitled image" • stevepb - "ice cream cone melting hot" • Evan Dennis - "untitled image" • Engin_Akyurt - "potato frying yellow" • Sylvanus Urban - "untitled image" • Ross Findon - "untitled image"

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a copyright violation, please follow the DMCA section in the Terms of Use.