By Sarah Johnson, M.D.
The obesity epidemic is a huge problem (no pun intended) due to associated medical problems and their burden on the healthcare system. In 2009, an estimated 25% of Americans met criteria for obesity. This figure has steadily increased since the 1970’s.
Obesity leads to heart disease, strokes, high blood pressure, diabetes, and may be associated with increased risk for depression. It has been suggested that over-eating and other eating behaviors associated with obesity may share features with drug and alcohol addiction. This would certainly explain why this epidemic is so difficult to combat.
The DSM IV-TR defines substance dependence as three or more of the following symptoms occurring within one year: tolerance, withdrawal symptoms, substance taken in larger amounts or for a longer duration than intended, attempts to cut back, excessive time spent pursuing, using, or recovering from use, reduction or discontinuation of important activities because of use, and continued use despite adverse consequences.