Obesity is a serious problem in our country today. According to the CDC, over 35% of the adults in the United States are obese, and more and more children are becoming overweight. This trend in obesity is occurring because of things like the readily available junk food in schools, the increasingly sedentary lifestyle of most Americans, and the surprising lack of exercise that afflicts our modern society. However, a scientific study conducted in 2011 strongly suggests that alcoholism contributes to obesity.
Study Suggests Link between Food Addiction and Family Alcoholism
The study, done by researchers at Washington School of Medicine in St. Louis, found a connection between family alcoholism and food addiction. Food addiction, or the compulsive urge to overeat, occurs more commonly among families that already have an addiction problem. The study, which looked at data from 1991 to 2001, found that adults with a family history of alcoholism were 30% to 40% more likely to struggle with obesity than those who had no family history of alcoholism.
One reason for the connection between alcoholism and food addiction is that there is a genetic component to addiction, and food can be just as addicting as a drug. The fast food that is convenient and popular in our country today causes a rush of dopamine in the brain when consumed – this is the same reaction individuals get when abusing drugs or alcohol. Those with a predisposition to addiction will also find it harder to resist the urge to overeat unhealthy foods, and the result is obesity.
Impacts of Alcoholism
The other reason food addiction is commonly linked to alcoholism is the devastating impact alcoholism has on family members. Children, spouses, and other family members suffer when a loved one is an alcoholic. The dysfunction of an alcoholic family leads to poor self-esteem, difficulty learning, lack of motivation, and emotional distress. These are unfortunately all things that can steer someone toward a food addiction as they get older.
Alcoholism and food disorders both have far-reaching effects for family members and loved ones. Anyone struggling with alcoholism or a food addiction, or who has a family member struggling with either disease, is encouraged to get help as soon as possible. Professional help is needed in order heal the damage caused by these diseases. Don’t wait until the symptoms outweigh the problems, millions of Americans have recovered from alcoholism and millions more have regained their health after a period of obesity.