Obesity Is an Addiction, Researchers Say

Susan Farley
Published Online: Friday, October 1, 2004

Researchers from the University of Florida have asserted that chronic overeating is a substance abuse disorder and should therefore be considered an addiction. The chief of addiction medicine at the university's College of Medicine, Mark Gold, has coauthored 3 studies published in the Journal of Addictive Diseasesthat link overeating, obesity, and addiction. Gold has remarked, "What's the difference between someone who's lost control over alcohol and someone who's lost control over food? When you look at their brains and brain responders, the differences are not very significant ? we've taken the position that overeating is, in part, due to food becoming more refined, more palatable, more hedonic. Food might be the substance in a substance abuse disorder that we see today as obesity."

On a similar note, Tommy Thompson, secretary of Health and Human Services, recently declared obesity to be an illness covered by Medicare. In the United States, obesity is the second most common cause of death, with 64% of the population overweight or obese.

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