Is Food Addiction Real?


(pictured above is Christina Lyn Dunham, who overcame obesity and her addiction to food)

By Joy Stephenson-Laws, JD, Founder


There is a huge stigma attached to being overweight. We often don’t give obese people the same sympathy we give to someone battling other addictions, like gambling or substance abuse.

Reportedly, “obesity is stigmatized as a condition that is changeable and controllable. In essence, obesity is subconsciously construed as a person’s choice. While factors other than controllable eating habits are at play in the obesity crisis, many people still perpetuate the erroneous assumption that overweight people are impulsive, lazy, and less likeable overall.”

But there is such a thing as food addiction. It is a disease, and something many Americans suffer from.

“The construct of food addiction has been defined as a clinically significant physical and psychological dependence on high fat, high sugar, and highly palatable foods,” according to The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse.

However, food addiction “is not a recognized disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), the primary resource for diagnostic criteria standards for a range of psychiatric and behavioral disorders.”

It’s rather surprising that food addiction is not recognized as a mental health disorder. There are food addiction rehabilitation centers and support groups such as Food Addicts Anonymous (just like AA).

And it’s important to acknowledge that not all food addicts are necessarily overweight. There can be skinny food addicts. Perhaps some of these people over-exercise in order to combat an excessive caloric intake.

Clearly, addiction comes in all forms and we need to treat all types of addiction as major public health concerns. This especially holds true for people who are morbidly obese.

If you’re familiar with the popular TV show “My 600-lb Life,” you may have looked at some of the people on the show and thought: How could someone eat so much and let themselves get as heavy as 600 pounds?!

Well, the answer is addiction. And addiction can be deadly.

Sadly, a woman named Lisa Fleming, who was on “My 600-lb Life,” recently passed. She was just 50-years-old.

She reportedly weighed more than 700 pounds when she started the show and hadn’t walked in more than a year. We previously discussed her story when she shockingly found maggots in the folds of her skin.

Her daughter claims it was not her being overweight that took her mother’s life, but “various illnesses” that “took their toll over time.” I think it’s safe to say that these illnesses were likely due to Fleming being so overweight.

Being obese increases your risk of developing cancer, diabetes, breathing problems, cardiovascular disease and a myriad of other health issues. Not to mention, being immobile may cause blood clots and mental health issues such as depression.

And, unfortunately, Fleming is not the only person from “My 600-lb Life” who has died. One participant died of a heart attack, while another committed suicide. Once again, we see the severe need to address obesity as a mental health issue and remove the stigma.

This is why at pH Labs, we strive to be an open forum where people can comfortably share their issues. We want to lend support and appreciate those who are brave in sharing their journeys, including their weight loss journeys. These stories are a great source of inspiration and a daily reminder that we can be proactive about our health and help each other.

Check out Chrissy’s story. She started at over 500 pounds and has already lost 140 pounds in less than a year.  Learn how she overcame her addiction to food and obesity. She is such an inspiration and will surely give anyone out there struggling with food addiction and obesity hope. Let’s take the time to tell our stories and support those among us with addictions so they can lead their healthiest lives.

Enjoy your healthy life!!

The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses and certified fitness instructors. This team also includes the members of the pH Medical Advisory Board, which constantly monitors all pH programs, products and services. To learn more about the pH Medical Advisory Board, click here.



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