In their ongoing quest to classify foods as drugs and regulate them like Everclear, the food police engage in sleight of tongue. In order to convince the public and gullible politicians that they must degrade the public’s right to choose, they conflate pleasure and “addiction” with pretty MRI pictures.
Case and point is this month’s issue of the journal Biological Psychiatry, which is publishing a series of articles purporting to prove “food addiction.” Headed by a letter from Kelly “Big Brother” Brownell and a colleague, the journal lists articles providing “evidence” that some foods are basically crack. According to the authors of the articles, since the human brain releases a chemical called dopamine in both drug administration and eating, eaters can be food addicts (unless they’re eating kale). So, are people hiding in the back-alleys behind restaurants jumping fry cooks on grease-disposal duty for another hit of fat, sugar, or salt? Not exactly.
The chemical dopamine is the leading brain chemical associated with any pleasurable experience. Having sex? Yep, that releases dopamine. Listening to music? Same thing—dopamine releases in the brain. Shoot, even watching football? Indeed—more dopamine.
So, does that provide a clear and convincing case to seize every satellite T.V. dish, every copy of Madden NFL, and every replica jersey from kids under 21? Of course not. The immediate effects of real addictions are well-established and destructive; foods cause no such things (neither does watching sports). That—and inconsistency in the brain scan results—caused Cambridge University neuroscientists to restate a warning not to engage in policymaking based on unproven and conflated claims of “addiction.”