What we can do, politically

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Few sweeping statements can be applied broadly, but here's one I'm willing to stand by: The first action any problem eater should consider is to take responsbility for what he or she eats, and look for support and help to change.That's what I did, albeit haltingly and irascibly, and I'm maintaining a 150-pound-plus weight loss for almost 20 years.

But while we're tending to our personal houses, there are other actions we can take to influence the atmosphere in which we and are children are living. I don't say it will be easy; in fact, it will be very very hard: Not only are we all habits of creature, steeped in our own perspectives and expectations, but powerful commercial interests, in the main, have tailored the atmosphere to fit their bottom line.

I could give a hundred examples, but let's just take one for now: The typical fast-food meal, made up of corn (syrup for soda), corn (feed for beef), and corn (oil for fries), is heavily subsidized by US agriculture policy. This makes fast food far affordable than less processed foods, even if most people would agree they are less healthy for us. And then, of course, the fast-fooders spends billions on advertising to convince us that deserve a break today. (The corn example comes from Michael Pollan.)

So what can we do, politically? Here's a suggestion from Phil Werdell, cofounder of Acorn Food Dependency Recovery Services, with whom I have consultive and warm personal ties: Commit to raise $1,000 for the research priorities of the Food Addiction Institute. (Disclosure: I'm on the advisory board.) Its primary research goal is to conduct qualitative animal inquiries to establish the existence of food addiction and understand the nature of food addiction denial.

What's food addiction denial? If you've ever thought to yourself, "I'll just have a little" but ended up eating a lot, then you have at least an inkling.

Werdell's idea is that if 200 people raise $1,000 each, the resulting $200K will be enough to the research contemplated. An experienced research partner is lined up, and the work to be done has been sketched.

Results of the research could do more than a thousand heartfelt entreaties to influence the medical establishment, principally the American Psychiatric Association, which so far has not acknowledged that food addiction exists. Until that happens, treatment options will be on the economic margins, unsupported by insurance.


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