Obesity is a type of addiction similar to alcoholism or narcoticism.
Although a very small percentage of obese individuals have eating disorders and behavioral disorder (overeating), obesity is a complex disease associated with many different factors. In the treatment of addictions such as alcohol and drug addiction, the first step is to keep the patient away from the drugs or alcohol. However, since we need to eat to live, this approach does not work in the treatment of obesity. In addition, there may be other problems affecting the weight of an individual, such as psychological problems. Weight gain generally occurs in cases of energy imbalance, or in other words, when the amount of food (energy) consumed is greater than the number of calories burned (energy consumption). Energy imbalance may occur due to overeating or inadequate physical activity and exercise.
In addition, there may also be other conditions affecting energy balance and/or fat metabolism, other than excessive eating or sedentary life style. These include:
- Chronic insomnia,
- Independent of caloric content, the consumption of foods likely to cause metabolic/hormonal changes that may increase body fat (sugar, high fructose corn syrup, trans fat, processed meats and processed wheat).
- Inadequate consumption of certain foods (fruits, vegetables, legumes, hazelnuts, seeds, high-quality protein)
- Stress and psychological distress
- Some types of medications
- Environmental pollutants
One of the reasons of why obesity is considered to be a “progressive” disease is the fact that obesity generates obesity. Weight gain leads to a number of hormonal, metabolic and molecular changes in the body that increase the risk for fat accumulation and obesity. Carbohydrates (sugars) are turned into fat without being used, as a result of the insulin resistance that has increased with the increased insulin secretion and fat. The body‘s capacity to store fat increases as the sizes and numbers of the fat cells increase. Such defects in the fat metabolism is the indication of that more of the calories consumed are stored as fat. What’s worse is that obesity increases the desire to eat more often, by affecting the factors that regulate appetite and hunger. Briefly, obesity is caused by many reasons, and therefore, it is not sensible to define obesity as just a food addiction. Defining obesity as just a food addiction and treating it accordingly can be acceptable for a very small percentage of moderately overweight individuals; however, this is not acceptable for morbidly obese patients and a greater percentage of individuals.