Food choices & addiction 


addictive foods

Posted March 15,2024.



Eating patterns in the U.S. are not meeting federal dietary guidelines. As a result, we are facing an ever-growing epidemic of diet-related chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and arthritis, with many of these problems associated with combinations of poor nutrition and obesity. There is scientific evidence that food choices like junk foods, processed foods, and snacks are spiked with sugar, fat, salt or all three, causing an addictive urge to eat.

Most of us have experienced an intense urge to eat a certain food—ideally right away. More often than not, that food is likely to be sugary, salty, or fatty, or all three. You may feel increasingly excited as you imagine how it will taste and how you’ll feel eating it. Maybe you last ate several hours ago, or maybe you’re still digesting your last meal. These urges are called cravings, which can pop up at any moment, and aren’t always fueled by hunger pangs.


CDC states that "Most people in the United States don’t eat a healthy diet and consume too much sodium, saturated fat, and sugar, increasing their risk of chronic diseases. For example, fewer than 1 in 10 adolescents and adults eat enough fruits or vegetables. In addition, 6 in 10 young people aged 2 to 19 years and 5 in 10 adults consume at least one sugary drink on any given day."

Laurence summarizes obesity Statistics at a Glance:

Obesity is defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher, which is calculated by dividing one’s weight in kilograms by their height in meters squared, or by dividing one’s weight in pounds by their height in inches squared and then multiplying by 703.

Four million people die each year as a result of obesity, according to the World Health Organization (WHO)[3]. The worldwide obesity rate has nearly doubled since 1980.

The World Obesity Federation predicts that by 2030, one in five women and one in seven men will have obesity. Currently, more people have obesity than underweight in every region of the world, with the exception of sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, revealing how it’s a common health problem in both developed and developing countries. The obesity rate in the U.S. continued to climb during the COVID-19 pandemic, increasing by 3% between March 2020 and March 2021.

Obesity increases the risk of severe illness from COVID-19, tripling one’s risk of hospitalization, according to the CDC.

Obesity is linked to 30% to 53% of new diabetes cases in the U.S. every year, per research in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Medical costs for people with obesity in the U.S. tend to be 30% to 40% higher than those for people without obesity. Research suggests obesity increases the average number of days someone misses work annually, either due to illness or injury, by an estimated three days a year.





Unfortunately, as most doctors get little training in nutrition during their medical education and beyond, many find themselves ill prepared to provide evidence-based nutritional recommendations to their patients. The bottom line is that there are many aspects of healthy lifestyle habits that aren’t covered extensively in most medical education programs.

Dr. Raja Jaber, a family medicine physician at Stony Brook Family and Preventive Medicine in New York states that: “The present state of nutrition education in our medical schools is sad,” she adds. “It’s part of a legacy of a treatment model based on pharmacology and surgery. Millard

The book, Nutrition Education in US medical Schools, offers recommendations to upgrade what were found to be largely inadequate nutrition programs in U.S. medical schools. PUblished by Joint Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME, Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 1985.

"Current medical nutrition education must still be considered inadequate at all levels of professional training [18–20], and this is evident in the published literature showing that many physicians do not feel confident in their clinical nutrition skills, particularly when it comes to dealing with overweight and obese patients. The few pieces of available objective data on clinical nutrition competencies of recently graduated physicians indicate that medical schools do not prepare their students adequately for the typical challenges of everyday practice. One survey of medical residents in a highly rated and competitive program found that only a small minority (14%) felt prepared to provide competent nutrition guidance to their patients. A detailed knowledge test demonstrated that the bleak self-assessment of these residents was well founded. There is no indication that ill-prepared medical school graduates usually make up for deficits in their medical school education later on through extensive additional nutrition instruction and skill building opportunities. " Adams



In Traditional Chinese medicine [TCM], the concept of medicine and food homology plays a crucial role in understanding the relationship between the body, food, and nature. It is believed that certain foods can have a profound impact on a person's health and well-being, as they possess properties that can either support or counteract the body's internal balance. Chen

Robert Karch, director of the Florida Department of Health in Orange County, helped develop the elective when he was a physician at Nemours Children’s Health and a College of Medicine affiliated faculty member. He points to studies that show 80% to 90% of chronic diseases — including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, kidney disease, high blood pressure and some forms of cancer — are rooted in a person’s lifestyle. But lifestyle medicine is just emerging as a specialty, as physicians focus on preventing disease rather than just treating it with prescriptions. Chen Aleda



CDC, "Poor nutrition," National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, September 8, 2022.  CDC:



Laurence Emily, "Obesity Statistics And Facts In 2024," Forbes Health.  Laurence: Obesity statistics 2024

Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, "Cravings," The Nutrition Source, October, 2023,  Harvard: Cravings 2023


Millard Elizabeth, "How Nutrition Education for Doctors Is Evolving," Time, May 24, 2023. Millard: How is nutrition education for doctors evolving? 2023

Adams Kelly M., Scott Butsch, and Martin Kohlmeier "The State of Nutrition Education at US Medical Schools," Journal of Biomedical Education, August 06 2015.  Adams: State of Medical education in US schools 2015

Chen Junshi, "Essential role of medicine and food homology in health and wellness," Chin Herb Med. 2023, July 15, 2023.  Chen: Role of medicine and food in Chinese medicine 2023

Chen Aleda M.H, Juanita A. Draime, Sarah Berman, Julia Gardner, Zach Krauss, and Joe Martinezd, "Food as medicine? Exploring the impact of providing healthy foods on adherence and clinical and economic outcomes," Explor Res Clin Soc Pharm. March 5, 2022.  Chen: Providing healthy foods 2022

Downer Sarah, Seth A Berkowitz, Timothy S Harlan, Dana Lee Olstad and Dariush Mozaffarian, " Food is medicine: actions to integrate food and nutrition into healthcare," BMJ June 29, 2020.  Downer: Food is medicine 2020

Bueno Nassib, Christina Roberto, Susana Jiménez-Murcia and Fernando Fernandez-Aranda, "Identifying some foods as addictive could stimulate research, shift attitudes," University of Michigan News, October 10, 2023.  Bueno: Foods that are addictive 2023

Yuan Haidan, Qianqian Ma,Li Ye and Guangchun Piao, "The Traditional Medicine and Modern Medicine from Natural Products," Molecules. May 21, 2016.  Yuan: Traditional and modern medicine 2016

Wong Suhtling, "UCF Medical Students Learn How to Use Food as Medicine," Universsity of Central Florida, March 9, 2023.  Wong: Medical students learn to use food as medicine 2023