Should food be treated like an addictive drug?

McDonald's Big Mac and French fries
Picture taken on August 12, 2009 shows a stack of McDonald's Big Macs and French Fries in Washington, DC.
PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images

During Thanksgiving dinner, did you have a second, third or fourth piece of pumpkin pie because you "couldn't" help yourself? Holiday dining often includes overeating for many, but for some it's a daily problem.

More researchers in food addiction today are crossing paths with those who study drug addiction. Should food be considered and treated like a drug?

From The Daily Beast:

The theory that the brain responds to high-fat, high-calorie foods similarly to how it responds to drugs is now gaining scientific muscle, led by renowned names in the field of addiction. Over the past few years, it has become one of the hottest topics in obesity research, receiving nearly $6 million of funding in 2011 alone from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. "There is a huge amount of research now going on in this area," says the institute's head, Nora Volkow. In general, especially in studies of rodents, the brain appears to uniquely draw us to high-calorie, low-nutrient foods of the kind filling the shelves at every Kwik Chek, 7-Eleven, and corner deli.

Categorizing calorie- and fat-dense foods as addictive would mean, as it did with Sheppard, that "dieting" could become "recovery" and steps might be taken to restrict the way certain foods are marketed and sold. It could open the door to cigarette-style taxes and warning labels.

Ashley Gerhardt, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Michigan, will join The Daily Circuit Tuesday to discuss food addiction. Richard Shriner, psychiatrist-in-chief at Vista Psychiatric Hospital and program director of the Eating Disorder & Obesity Programs, will also join the discussion.

JOIN THE LIVE CHAT

Before you go...

MPR News is dedicated to bringing you clarity in coverage from our reporters across the state, stories that connect us, and conversations that provide perspectives when we need it most. We rely on your help to do this. Your donation has the power to keep MPR News strong and accessible to all during this crisis and beyond.