Food Addiction: Possible Trigger of Obesity Epidemic

Clearwater, FL (Newswise) — With diabetes and obesity reaching epidemic levels, the scientific community is exploring the many factors that may be contributing to this global problem. One aspect that is gaining interest within the research community is food addiction. The latest research findings and clinical insights are the focus of the first symposium of the 55th Annual Conference of the American College of Nutrition (ACN), which is being held October 15-18, 2014, at the Marriott Rivercenter in San Antonio, Texas. The symposium is scheduled from 2-5 p.m. on October 15 and will feature the following topic experts:

The Research in Food Addiction
Joseph Frascella, PhD, is the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse's Division of Clinical Neuroscience and Behavioral Research. His research focuses on the pleasurable effects that substances, including those contained in certain foods, have on the brain, and the physiological patterns that can be created as a result. In his remarks, Dr. Frascella will address the similarities between drug addiction and overeating. He will emphasize similarities in overproduction of craving neurotransmitters such as opiates and dopamine as well as the suppression of memory and inhibition functions that are found in individuals who are addicted to drugs and those who are overeaters.

Abstinent Food Plans
Theresa Wright, MS, RD, LDN, is nationally recognized for her approaches to the treatment of addictive and compulsive eating disorders. She has been a clinical nutritionist for nearly 30 years and is the founder of Renaissance Nutrition Center, Inc., a venue for nutrition and weight management programs that combine practical nutrition and food information with behavior modification and self-management techniques. In her discussion, Ms. Wright will address the evidence that shows that sweeteners, flour, salt, processed fat, dairy, and caffeine can activate addictive pathways in the brain which in turn stimulate overeating. She will review how to combine non-additive foods into meals that balance protein and carbohydrates. She will show how using unprocessed foods can reduce overeating for certain food-addicted populations.

The Role of Cravings Triggers
Joan Ifland, PhD, MBA, is the founder and chair of Victory Meals, a prepared food service addressing food addiction. She is the lead author of the first academically published description of food addiction in humans and the author of the book, Sugars and Flours: How They Make Us Crazy, Sick and Fat. In her remarks, Dr. Ifland will review the research that describes the key role of cravings stimulation in overeating. The presentation will also demonstrate how sights, sounds, and smells that some people associate with processed foods can stimulate addictive pathways in the brain to create cravings that overwhelm rational thought and promote overeating. The discussion will include practical recommendations for helping some people reduce their overwhelming cravings by avoiding exposure to external processed food cues.

The symposium is one of eight that will be held during the four-day ACN Annual Conference. For additional information about the meeting, see the conference brochure at

About the American College of Nutrition
The American College of Nutrition, founded in 1959, is on a mission to advance nutrition science to prevent and treat disease. Key goals of the professional society are to stimulate nutrition research and publication, elevate nutrition knowledge among clinicians and researchers, and provide practical guidance on clinical nutrition. The American College of Nutrition accepts no funding from for-profit corporations. This policy fosters its mission and ability to advance uncompromising science.