Obesity is often considered a matter of character rather than a matter of health. According to Haddock (2000), “Obesity is often taken as a sign of personal failing…Even though about one-third of the population is overweight, and the causes of obesity are clearly not associated with personal character, the stigma against the obese remains” (p. 124)…
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124). However, in studying the nature of obesity and its primary causes, connections to addiction can be observed. With overeating becoming more clearly associated with addiction, it is clear that the nature of treatment should be medical, not based in shame. One of the disorders associated with overeating can be observed through binge eating disorder (bed). This eating disorder is defined through a number of criteria that place the eater in a frequently vulnerable state of uncontrolled eating. Through examination of a case study and in evaluating the patient for the abnormalities associated with their overeating, treatments through both drug therapy and non-pharmaceutical therapies can help to regulate their condition. Relationships between food and addiction have been created through connections to other forms of addiction. Tobacco addiction can lead to a loss of weight as can addictions to drugs. In trying to avoid relapse towards alcohol abuse, Alcoholics Anonymous has recommended to their members to never allow themselves to “get too hungry” (Gold, 2004, p. 2). When addicts are treated for their addictions it seems to lead the addicted towards weight gain. Therefore, there is some speculation that there is a connection between food consumption and the pathways in the brain towards addictive behaviors. Overeating can be termed as an addiction of its own because “The ‘symptoms’ of the disease include perceived loss of eating control, cravings, preoccupations with food, and sometimes denial and secrecy. Overeating is alternated with restrictive dieting, and eating is used to regulate emotions and cope with stress in a manner similar to the use of psychotropic drugs” (Haddock, 2000, p. 125). One of the problems with trying to find a way to regulate an addiction associated with overeating is that, unlike other types of substance abuse, an individual cannot completely stop eating in order to rid the body of the offending problem. An alcoholic or a drug user can work towards eliminating the addiction by stopping the behavior. However, an overeater must find a way to continue eating without indulging the addictive behaviors that are associated with the disorder. In addition, there are some types of substances in food that can be identified for their unhealthy nature, but for also for their ability to affect mood and stress. The core substance that causes addictive behaviors is sugar. Pekarek (2007) describes the effects of sugar and its addictive properties by stating “You may have suffered for days without sweets, but one bite puts you over the edge and back into the cycle of eating uncontrollably while trying to satisfy those sugar cravings” (p. 5). She further explains that “Processed sugar keeps your appetite in high gear, keeping you constantly hungry” (Pekarek, 2007, p. 5). DesMaisons (2002) describes sugar addiction as a part of a more difficult problem which is defined as sugar sensitivity in which the body is more sensitive and reactive to imbalances which will “create cravings, mood swings, erratic energy, and sugar addiction” (p. 11). Using the addiction-as-disease model for BED, the concept of the disorder is defined by introduction of white flour and white sugar as a small child, triggering the addiction. Using the auto-addiction opioid model, “
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