Where is the handle to grab this problem known as Food Addiction (as distinct from Eating Addiction), which may or may not have consistent rules? Is it the particular kind of food, or something found in many foods? Is it not even caused by food at all? Where and what is the addictor? Or is the problem inside the person? Why do corporations take such outlandish measures in their effort to make food as addictive as the major drugs?
Obviously, the profit motive is involved in a big way. If a company can amass fortunes by selling its customers something that will diminish their quality of life and possibly even kill them, why should the manufacturers care, any more than the leaders of a drug cartel care if their heroin kills people? It’s just business.
But extra-paranoid people suspect that something else comes into play. They relate it to, for instance, Orson Scott Card’s science fiction novel, Xenocide.
The colonizers of a planet had introduced a genetic mutation that would cause some of their brilliant population to suffer from OCD, so distracting that it would prevent the individuals from being able to concentrate on seizing power, if the thought ever happened to enter their heads. Which it wouldn’t, because they were so wrapped up in counting and other obsessive-compulsive rituals.
Is there some powerful force or entity that wants Earth’s population anesthetized, immobilized, demotivated and hypnotized, collapsed in a limpid pile in front of an electronic entertainment device, too heavy to move very far and too preoccupied to know or care what goes on in society? If there were such a force or entity, it could thrive by employing this method.
To sum up so far: First, a very weak case for addictive substances in natural foods. Second, an increased possibility for an addiction-like reaction when processed food comes into the picture, which it mostly has for most people on the planet’s surface. There is another whole side to this matter. To what extent is the propensity to become food-addicted (or eating-addicted) inherent in the person?
There is a problematic difference between addiction to a substance, and addiction to eating; along with and despite the suggested possibility that some foods actually do contain chemically addictive substances. But then why doesn’t everyone who eats those foods become addicted? Dr. Pretlow says,
Only a subset of individuals who are exposed to substances with addictive potential develop addictive behaviors, just as not all people who are exposed to foods and diet patterns that pose difficulties with weight control become obese.
And yet, so many people find it impossible to shed their addictions, whether categorized as substance, behavioral, or other. Dr. Pretlow has written that addiction and obesity “both reflect the consequences of ingestive behavior gone awry,” and notes the core similarities between these conditions:
First, in terms of clinical diagnostic features, both addiction and obesity result from repetitive foraging and ingestion behaviors that intensify and persist despite negative and (at times) devastating health and other life consequences.
Likewise, despite often repeated attempts to reduce or quit using addictive substances, relapse is common in the addiction recovery process, just as those with obesity who attempt to regulate their food intake through dieting frequently relapse and return to their elevated body weight.
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