The latest gambit of the food police to get people to give up their freedom to choose foods and drinks that they enjoy is to categorize that very enjoyment as addiction. Then the lawyers and bureaucrats can sue, tax, and ban everything they don’t like. It’s for the children, of course.
And as with any bureaucratic movement, there are parallel hype generators seeking airtime and publicity. (Remember Meme Roth piggybacking on school cupcake bans.) “Food addiction” may have found its hype machine in Pamela Peeke, author of The Hunger Fix. In an interview with Salon.com, she claims that brain scans show that food junkies’ brains are “indistinguishable” from those of drug addicts. Apparently, giving your daughter a breakfast pastry turns her into a “science fair project.”
That is absurd. First of all, the brain scan studies do not show that food turns people’s brains into “Your Brain on Drugs.” A commentary by Cambridge University neuroscientists who examined the scientific literature concluded that “functional neuroimaging does not support the addiction model” of obesity. That shouldn’t be too surprising: people don’t pass out in alleyways while waiting for their next sip of milkshake.
Even Kelly Brownell, one of the activist researchers most committed to the addiction theory, must concede that “nobody claims that food has [as] strong of an effect” on the brain as drugs of abuse. The “food addiction” concept just doesn’t stand up. That won’t stop activists from trying to use it to “change the legal landscape” and sue food companies, and it won’t stop book promoters from trying to sell more books with more baseless hype.