David Kessler Discusses the Science Behind Overeating

Read the full interview here.  David Kessler, MD, former head of the FDA has come up with a compelling argument that lays much of the cultural problem of overeating at the feet of the food industry.  Here is an excerpt from the interview:

WSJ: Are we then all victims of subtle cravings whose genesis we’re doomed never to understand?

Dr. Kessler: This syndrome of conditioned hyper-eating, which is what this is — the loss of control in the face of highly palatable foods, lack of feeling full — is reward-based eating. Not all are equally susceptible. Those obese and overweight have a greater incidence. But even 20% of the healthy report occasional loss of control. You will find people for whom food doesn’t capture their interest, but it’s probably a small percentage of the population. For the rest of us, it’s a continuum. It’s not only conditioned behavior. It’s the learning and motivational circuits of the brain being captured. Is it nurture or nature? You expose children who are eating fat, sugar and salt all day. They’ve never been hungry a day in their lives. Once you lay down that neuro-circuitry, it’s there for life. The actual act of consumption isn’t as strong as anticipation. It’s the conditioning associated with a cue. Once you are cued and you’re activated, it amplifies the reward value. It torments you. You want it more.

Scary stuff, but I am convinced that the practice of mindfulness can be applied to overcoming the conditioning of our minds to hyper-eating.  Skill development and practice may not fully quiet our minds, but we can be taught to feed ourselves as we were designed to be fed, one bite at a time.

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05 2009

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  1. Guadalupe #

    Dr. Kessler,

    Never said better, I have PTSD, MDD and of course food is my favorite band aid, I started EMDR teraphy and I now see my addiction.

    Thank you so much for this article, because people like us know that the formula eat less, move more does not work for all

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