Hooked on Food
Are you captive of a food addiction?
Food Addiction: Where's the Beef? continued...
While lobbyists for food manufacturers may minimize the risks of plates
brimming with meat, cheese, and other high-fat items, Roizen says he believes
that eating more than 20 grams a day of bad fats such as saturated fats and
trans fats can contribute to breast and prostate cancers, as well as what he
calls "arterial aging," which may lead to heart disease, stroke,
impotence, memory loss, and even skin wrinkling.
The same goes for sugar, says Roizen, professor of medicine and
anesthesiology at the State University of New York College of Medicine in
Syracuse. "The main reason to avoid sugar is that it ages your
arteries," he says. Add to that the recent lawsuits against fast-food
chains for contributing to obesity and chronic illnesses, and the food industry
may feel it is under a siege of supersized proportions.
Getting to Be a Habit
When words like "food addiction" are bandied about, there are plenty
of skeptics who hesitate to put foods like cheese and chocolate into the same
category as widely acknowledged addictions such as cocaine or alcohol. But
Barnard asks, "What other term would you use for a woman who gets into her
car at 11:30 at night and drives six miles to the 7-Eleven to get a chocolate
bar, and does it every night? She's gaining weight, she feels profoundly guilty
afterward, and though she resolves to stop this behavior, she does it every
night, night after night? That's a food addiction."
The proponents of this food addiction theory point to possible differences
between the sexes in their compulsions. Women may be more susceptible to
chocolate, particularly in the premenstrual period. While some men may have a
sweet tooth, many more say that the one food they're least likely to give up is
steak. Barnard points to an April 2000 survey of 1,244 adults, which concluded
that one in four Americans wouldn't give up meat for a week even if they were
paid a thousand dollars to do so. "It sounds an awful lot like an addiction
to me," he says.