Is Overeating An Addictive Behaviour?
Comparing Overeating And Substance Abuse Across Addiction Models.
Both overeating and under eating have been loosely defined in academic journals as addiction disorders, much like drug dependence is widely recognized as today. Although many addictions are habitual, some may have a deeper reasoning behind them. Both food and drugs have intense reinforcing and rewarding effects on some subjects. Addiction is defined in Webster’s as the compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance (as heroin, nicotine, or alcohol) characterized by tolerance and by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal. A group of 30 men (n = 30) aged 18-30 years old were tested in this study who had either a drug addiction (personality type D), food addiction (personality type O) or neither addictive personality (personality type N). Qualitative measures were used to find out just how addictive food can be to ‘overeaters’. Many forms of instrumentation were used in this study. Participants filled out questionnaires, surveys and were also interviewed during the course of this 2-day trial period. This study has shown significant effects of food on participants with an overeating disorder and thus point in the direction of overeating (and perhaps under eating) as being an addictive behavior.
Obesity is a major public health issue in North America. Trying to distinguish between overeating and drug dependence as addictions is difficult as there are many parallels between them (Barry et al. 2009). Until recently, overeating was not seen as an addictive behavior, but in recent journal findings, it has been proven to arouse the same reinforcing and reward effects as substance abuse. When animal models become addicted to some types of food, leading to binge eating, certain behavioral components of addiction are shown to have similar neurochemical changes, which also occur with addictive drugs (Avena, N. 2010). Substance abuse has long been classified as an addiction, but food addiction (especially overeating) has been overlooked. Perhaps the reasoning behind overeating being overlooked by many mental health organizations as an addiction is due to the uniqueness of it. It shows both a type of substance-dependence as well as a behavioural addiction, and encompasses characteristics from both sides of those spectrums (Davis & Carter, 2009). Many studies have been done on animal models, which show a clear relationship between eating disorder and addiction, but this study will move to show the same correlations in human models. This problem of overeating in North Americans has become overwhelming and so, in order to further investigations on treatment of overeating, we must first classify overeating as an addictive disorder. More recently, the commonness of obesity and concern about its impact on public health has grown dramatically and in the United States, 33% of men and 35% of women were classified as obese, with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater, in 2005-2006 (Barry et al, 2009). Using human models in this study will meet all ethical guidelines, while also reaching a more prudent conclusion about food addiction. Moreover, this study will aim to add to current knowledge of overeating as an addiction disorder in the human models. Using such papers such as the study of food addiction in animal models (Avena, 2010), compulsive overeating as an addiction disorder (Davis & Carter, 2009), obesity and its relationship to addictions (Barry et al, 2009), I will further enhance the knowledge set out to investigate the likeness of food addiction to drug addiction. As stated earlier, obesity is becoming a growing problem in North Americans, not just for health reasons, but also emotional reasons. Individuals with overeating problems are having social anxieties and self-esteem issues surrounding their weight. Communities have to change and...
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