After a tough or emotional day, I will sometimes go home and eat ______ until I'm sick.

How people answer this question is at the crux of an emerging debate about obesity and food addiction. Is food addiction real, and should food industries be held accountable for engineering hyper-palatable sugar-salt-fat bombs that override feelings of fullness? Or is it more accurate to describe overeating as an eating addiction — a disordered relationship to all foods that can and should be brought to heel by the individual?

"Sitting in the room with clients, you never hear people say, ‘Oh my god, I came home after a hard day and I was just craving broccoli and cauliflower so bad that I had a massive binge on these vegetables,’” said Ashley Gearhardt, Ph.D. to the Huffington Post. “That’s part of the reason I think it’s important to recognize that not all food is problematic — it’s a certain class of foods that people seem to struggle with the most.”

Gearhardt is a clinical psychologist, a psychology professor at the University of Michigan, and the creator of the Yale Food Addiction Scale, a questionnaire that assesses how addicted someone is to food. Her Food Addiction Scale is now five years old, and has been deployed in dozens of studies that demonstrate an estimated five to 10 percent of the general population may have some degree of food addiction. The rates are even higher in obese study participants, and actual food addiction diagnoses (based on her scale) are most frequent in people who also binge eat, she writes in a recently published study retrospective about food addiction.


Read the full article "Food Addiction vs. Eating Addiction: Why A Single Word Makes All The Difference" at The Huffington Post.