Researchers at Texas Tech Examine Food Addiction

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We all have our favorite snacks and meals, but could you actually become addicted? Health experts say yes, it’s definitely possible. 
 
Researchers at Texas Tech Health Sciences, Dr. Cynthia Dsauza, an assistant professor of addictive disorders and recovery studies, and Allison Childress, a registered dietitian and nutritional sciences instructor, are in the early stages of a study examining what all triggers food addiction, and setting up clinical trials to compare people with a food addiction to those without. 
 
While there is no universal definition for food addiction, there is more and more evidence that certain types of foods can be addictive. Highly palatable foods that are high in sugar, salt and fat, such as pizza, chocolate cake, cookies, ice cream, fast food burgers, soda, cheese…etc.
 
As Childress and Dr. Dsauza have found even pictures, smells and memories of foods can trigger cravings. And not only does it greatly impact a person’s physical health, but their mental health as well. 
 
“They have a loss of control whenever they’re thinking about food or thinking about eating,” said Childress. “They set out to only eat a certain food but then they end up eating more than they planned even though they know they shouldn’t, or they have feelings of guilt and shame.”
 
It can happen to anyone. Food addiction is not limited to only those who are considered obese. In fact, people who are underweight or are at “normal” weight for their height can very well have a food addiction.  
 
Symptoms of food addiction:
– Cravings for certain foods 
– Often eating much more than intended
– Eating to the point of feeling excessively full
– Feeling guilty after eating particular foods, yet eating them again despite intentions not to 
– Making excuses about eating something one is craving
– Repeatedly trying to quite eating certain foods or setting rules about around those foods, but not succeeding at those attempts 
– Hiding consumption of unhealthy foods from others
– Unable to control consumption of unhealthy foods despite causing physical harm, including weight again. 
 
Think you may be struggling with a food addiction? It is highly recommended that you contact your doctor or a dietitian. 
 
If you’d like to be involved in Professor Childress’ and Dr. Dsauza’s study as a participant, you should contact the Texas Tech College of Human Sciences at (806) 742-3031. There will be financial compensation for participants. 
 

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