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If you are addicted to food you may have an impulsive personality

Harold Mandel's picture
An obese young guy who appears addicted to food

The obesity epidemic with associated serious emotional and other health problems such as diabetes and heart disease, is becoming more prevalent daily. A lot of people are looking for a magic fix in the form of some miracle diet to help them beat the problem of obesity. There are really no magic fixes for obesity. You have to commit yourself to a sensible nutritious low calorie diet which is low in saturated fats and sugar and get regular aerobic exercise to beat the problem of obesity. This may become considerably more difficult to do if you have an impulsive personality.

Impulsive personality traits have been exposed as being associated with alcohol and drug abuse, but have not been given much attention in relation to food addiction, reported the journal Appetite.
Researchers decided to investigate the interrelationships which exist between impulsive personality traits, food addiction, and Body Mass Index (BMI). They found significant positive associations between aspects of impulsivity, food addiction symptoms, and BMI. It was observed that impulsivity was indirectly associated with BMI in relation to associations with addictive consumption of food.

It was found in particular that an inclination toward behaving irrationally while experiencing negative mood states, or negative urgency, and low levels of task persistence, or lack of perseverance, were significantly associated with food addiction and that relationship was responsible for their association to BMI. It was concluded that impulsivity, which is generally associated with high-risk behaviors including addictive consumption of alcohol and drugs, may also be an important risk factor in a consideration of a tendency to engage in addictive consumption of food.

According to new research, impulsive personality is associated with food addiction, reports the University of Georgia in a discussion of this research on Jan. 24, 2014. Researchers have found that the same types of impulsive behavior which leads some people to abuse alcohol and other drugs may also be a significant contributor to dealing with food in an unhealthy manner. It has been observed by the researchers that people with impulsive personalities were more likely to report higher levels of food addiction. Food addiction is a compulsive pattern of eating which is similar to drug addiction. This problem of food addiction was found to in turn be associated with obesity.

James MacKillop, the study's primary investigator and associate professor of psychology in UGA's Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, has said, "The notion of food addiction is a very new one, and one that has generated a lot of interest." He thinks it's possible to consider impulsivity, food addiction and obesity using some of the same techniques as are used in studies of alcohol, nicotine and other forms of drug addiction.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention more than one-third of U.S. adults are obese, which leaves them at an increased risk for many serious health conditions, including:

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1: Heart disease

2: Stroke

3: Type 2 diabetes

4: Certain types of cancer.

The food industry has created a wide variety of eating options, and foods which are high in fat, sodium, and sugar along with other tasty additives appear to generate cravings much like illicit drugs do. MacKillop points out that neuroscience has helped us develop an understanding of how substances such as drugs and alcohol actually co-opt regions of the brain which evolved to release dopamine and create a sense of happiness or satisfaction. Now it is believed certain types of food also seem to hijack these brain circuits and set the stage for compulsive eating habits which are very similar to drug addiction.

It appears to me that this research has accurately pointed out a serious problem of food addiction which is associated with impulsive personalities. This consideration helps to explain the shocking behavior of many obese people eating their way into more obesity in order to satisfy the food addiction which they develop due to their impulsive personalities. This is clearly a very serious problem. I therefore encourage support of the concept of obesity as a medical illness with aggressive efforts by primary care physicians to deal more effectively with this life threatening problem.

Just like drug addicts must be encouraged to put aside the cocaine, amphetamines, heroin and other drugs for healthy alternatives such as green tea and more exercise if they want to regain their health and live longer, obese people and people who want to avoid obesity must learn to put aside fattening foods such as cheese cake, hot fudge sundaes, double cheese burgers and sugary drinks for the same type of healthy alternatives. This is a very challenging problem in view of the fact that TV food and beverage adds which are directed even at our kids are often unhealthy, as I have reported upon in a separate article for EmaxHealth.

Photograph courtesy of marin/Freedigitalphotos.net