Boca Raton, FL – America’s obesity epidemic generates enormous interest in the United States and around the world. A new book by a doctor of addictive nutrition, Joan Ifland, describes the evidence that the epidemic could be driven by an addiction to processed foods. Her unique perspective organizes thousands of studies to reveal a picture of overeating as serious addiction to sugars, fats, salt, and other processed foods and drinks.
For the first time, Ifland assembles a narrative of overeating from the perspective of a classic substance use disorder similar to alcoholism or smoking. She includes insights from the extensive overlaps between drug addiction and processed food addiction from the individual to family systems to society as a whole. The book describes how the Diagnostic Statistical Manual for Mental Illness 5 (DSM 5) illuminates consequences of processed food consumption to be similar to those for drug and alcohol addictions. She also shows how to adapt addiction treatment protocols issued by the American Psychiatric Association to recovery from processed food addiction.
“As a food addiction researcher, you are always looking for new ways to see overeating and explain the spread of obesity and the metabolic syndrome,” says Ifland, who has been working in the field of processed food addiction since 1996. “Science provides this vantage point. Researchers have generated thousands of findings in obesity, eating disorders, and drug addiction. When viewed through the food addiction model, the studies come together to form a surprisingly consistent, complete, and comprehensive picture of the presence of an addition to overeating.” Among them, as Ifland describes in the book, are MRI studies demonstrating that overeaters show the same neuro-adaptations as alcoholics and drug addicts. There is also extensive evidence that chronic overeaters are experiencing consequences that match up with those of drug addicts and alcoholics. Research showing that processed foods, especially sugar and high fructose corn syrup, helps to reinforce the premise that an addiction to processed foods is at work in the development of the metabolic syndrome.
Chronic overeaters who develop obesity and diabetes are portrayed by Ifland as candidates for caring and patient training in how to abstain from processed foods and craving triggers. Recovery for pediatric food addicts is described according to expert guidelines for the treatment of childhood obesity.
This is Ifland’s first reference about addiction to processed foods. Her popular works include Sugars and Flours: How They Make Us Crazy, Sick, and Fat (2001) and Dr. Ifland’s Food Addict’s Meal Prep Manual (2018). Her instructional video is Victory over Food Addiction: Make Meals at Home (2013).