An important, unexpected voice on food addiction

In addition to the video I posted yesterday in which pediatrician Nadine Burke speaks my language, namely “food addiction,” I have been heartened to see the concept of food addiction spread inexorably into the mainstream.

Former Senate Majority Leader Bill FristA striking example is this post by Bill Frist, a man I never expected to venerate on my blog. He’s a southern Republican who’s a former Senate majority leader, and I haven’t venerated anyone with that triple crown, ever.

But check out this headline and subheadline from TheWeek: “How to wean America from its dangerous food addiction/The nation's obesity epidemic is as much about brain chemistry as it is poor diet and laziness — a fact we must realize if we're going to treat obesity effectively.”

Like, not just yeah, but heck yeah!

Of course, I’ve been saying stuff like that for years, at every opportunity. But I am not a former Senate majority leader. Nor am I a doctor, another constituency that has been shockingly ignorant of food addiction’s existence and implications. So it’s just completely notable that he’s talking like this.

Here’s an excerpt from the piece, just to assure that some boneheaded copy editor didn’t misread the writer’s intent (wouldn’t be the first time, and I speak as a former copy editor of many years’ standing):

My fellow doctors, for the past four decades, have preached a "calories in — calories out" approach, suggesting that weight loss must be achieved by restricting calories or expending more energy. That approach is failing… miserably.

This is the key point — must always be the key point: What are the results of our actions? Never mind what ought to be; the salient fact is what is.

As a food addict, it wasn’t until I accepted my condition that I could start addressing it — why fix something you ain’t got? And it is so with all ailments. As the docs like to say, “diagnosis determines treatment.” How can you know how to proceed until you understand the problem?

Mr. Frist understands parts of the problem that few of his peers — medical or political — do.

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