Bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder (BED), is an eating disorder that is described as a recurrent binge eating episodes coupled with compensatory behaviours that counter act the consumption of food to avoid weight gain. Individuals will consume large amounts of food that are highly refined, sweet and carbohydrate rich, within a short timeframe, for example two hours. It is then followed by extreme excessive exercise, consumption of laxatives and purging. Interestingly, researches are starting to understand the thread of food addiction that is co morbid with BED and how this influences energy and body weight.
The food environment has changed increasing the availability of highly processed and hyper palatable foods. This is impacting vulnerable individuals to compulsive behaviours that lead to addiction. The evidence of food addiction is comparable to drug addiction and the DSM-IV-TR is recognizing the similar behaviours between substance dependence and food addiction. BED that is comorbid with food addiction is also comorbid with obesity. Further research is required to examine the clinical course of the condition and identify aetiological factors that influence the development of the disorder.
There were more similarities than differences between substance misuse and food addiction. These similarities were particularly evident for sugar bingeing. The impacts on individual energy and body weight show a feeding cycle of repeated restriction-refeeding. During the refeeding cycle there is a loss of control on food consumption. It is not surprising that the restriction-refeeding cycle impacts body weight negatively.
It is evident that the issue will gather momentum and become inherited characteristics through generations. Humans are genetically wired to overeat due to our biological make up. This is a definite issue when it comes to overeating and addictive behaviour. Highly palatable foods rich in sugar, fat and salt are impacting addiction. Overeating and food addiction are connected alongside obesity.
Research supports the notion that food is addictive and highlights the need for further studies to understand how to treat obesity and addiction. Science has also acknowledged that certain food types that create the addiction influence obesity.
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Davis, C., (2014). From passive overeating to “food addiction”: A spectrum of compulsion and severity. ISRN Obesity, 2013,. doi:10.1155/2013/435027
Hadad, N. A., and Knackstedt, L. A., (2014). Addicted to palatable foods: comparing the neurobiology of bulimia nervosa to that of drug addiction. Psychopharmacology, 231, 1897-1912. doi:10.1007/s00213-014-3461-1