Thought for Food

“Food addiction.” On its face it sounds absurd -- like maybe “air addiction” or “water addiction.” How can we be addicted to something we need to survive? It’s not like tobacco or alcohol, which some of us might enjoy but wouldn’t kill us to go without. Certainly it’s not like heroin or meth, which not only wreck the body but can also push level-headed people to commit desperate acts. Some recent studies, however, suggest that processed foods high in sugar, fat, and salt can be addictive. Other researchers have studied the brain’s wiring and found that feedback mechanisms can become dysfunctional over time. And mental health professionals say that eating can be compulsive and cause problems in a person’s life the same way alcohol or drugs can. Today’s panel discussion, Food Addiction, starts with Michael Prager, who in Fat Boy Thin Man depicts how he identified and sought treatment for this condition. Also speaking are professionals from various sectors. Elissa Epel is an associate professor of psychiatry at UC San Francisco, while Andrea Garber teaches pediatrics at UCSF and public health at UC Berkeley. Garber is also a registered dietitian. Also on the panel are Dr. Vera Ingrid Tarman of a Toronto treatment center called Renascent, Eric Stice of the Oregon Research Institute, and Nicole Avena of the University of Florida’s psychiatry department.
Tue., Feb. 28, noon, 2012

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