Starving Dietitian

Sweet Madness


“The best way to treat obesity, is like addiction”

I heard this quote for the first time years ago, from the lips of a teacher no less.

At the time I thought it seemed rather bold of her. After all, should the obese really be thrown in  with the likes of meth heads and junkies?

I gave the thought time to stew. Every week we hear something different, “Obesity is genetic” is nudged out by headlines of “Addicted to fast food”.

As I’ve seen ignorant RD’s point out, there is no easy way to argue this.

A simple google search of “Obesity is an addiction” brings up more studies than I’m sure you’d care to read.

But one summary stood out from the rest. [Source]

Obesity is a complex disease of appetite regulation and energy metabolism that is controlled by many factors. It can result from several possible genetic and environmental interactions some of which may entail a more direct genetic association or alternatively an indirect association that makes the individual genetically more susceptible to environmental stressors that will then favor food consumption.

That alone sums up just about all the research I’ve seen on attempts to link obesity to either genes or behavior.

Why can’t it be both?

Amidst two extremes, the truth lies in between.”  One of the quotes I live by having seen it validated time and again.

Let’s be honest, do you really think there’s an easy explanation for what contributes to obesity? If there were, someone would have written a book by now and be the next Bill Gates. No dice so far.

As for whether or not people can get addicted to fast food, that’s a difficult thing to answer definitively.

There is that self-experiment done by personal trainer Drew Manning to gain 70 lbs, ultimately concluding “I have an addiction to this stuff”.


Of course that’s hardly American Journal of Medicine research right there, but it makes you wonder.

There’s also been research on Sugar Addiction linking it to a genetic desensitization of Dopamine receptors. For those unfamiliar, dopamine is the neurotransmitter linked to “reward” systems in the brain.

So which comes first? Does a high sugar diet desensitize the receptors or do your genes predispose you to sugar cravings?

Well, if I had the answer to that, I’d be the next Bill Gates wouldn’t I?


My personal opinion? Genes are not the end-all and be all, but they affect how your body reacts.

Someone predisposed to alcoholism for instance probably won’t struggle unless exposed to large amounts of alcohol. Why should sugar be any different?

Whether or not people can be addicted to fast food, I think there’s clear benefits to treating it like an addiction. Just remember, every person has unique struggles to losing weight, genetic or psychological.

So reserve the judgment and be good to each other.

– Joshua Iufer

One comment

  1. Pingback: Lies We Tell Ourselves (About Nutrition) | Starving Dietitian

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