How much is too much?

If only food didn't have to taste so good. /image: Zach Almond

If only food didn’t have to taste so good. /image: Zach Almond

Students talk about food addiction

Article: Destiny Kaus – A&C Writer

A number of students at the University of Regina responded to the question “Do you have a food addiction?”

Some individuals answered with a resounding “Yes!”

“Ice cream!”

“Oranges. I love mandarin oranges because they’re really sour. I’d be depressed if I didn’t have oranges.”

“I don’t have a specific food I’m addicted to. I love all food. It’s definitely a problem. I often find myself eating because I’m bored not because I’m hungry … I am lucky enough to keep the weight off. But a lot of people don’t have an active enough lifestyle to combat it, which can lead to obesity.”

Other students answered “no.”

“There’s food that I really like but it’s not going to kill me if I don’t eat it. I love peanut butter but I don’t have to eat peanut butter.”

“I do not have a food addiction but someone close to me has an eating disorder. I know firsthand that food addictions can be a serious health problem.”

These students all believe that food addiction is a growing issue in today’s society and can lead to obesity. The Faculty of Medicine at Memorial University recently released their findings about this issue in an article entitled “Food Addiction: Its Prevalence and Significant Association with Obesity in the General Population.”

Dr. Guang Sun and his laboratory team assessed 652 adults from Newfoundland and Labrador—415 women and 237 men—to try and discover a connection between food addiction and obesity. The study concludes that “the prevalence of ‘food addiction’ was 5.4% (6.7% in females and 3.0% in males) and increased with obesity status.”

The study goes on to explain further results.

“Our results demonstrated that ‘food addiction’ contributes to severity of obesity and body composition measurements from normal weight to obese individuals in the general population with a higher rate in women as compared to men.”

These results beg the question: “Why is food addiction and obesity such an issue in today’s culture?”

Neil Child, a psychology professor at the University of Regina, believes that self-image plays a huge role in food addiction and obesity.

“Individually, I’ve counseled clients who say they’re fat, and have as their issue, a disproportionate urge to eat fat foods. Not so strangely, this self-described issue is that of self- image, being obese and decidedly, from the client view, unattractive.”

Derek Haberstock, a third year Kinesiology student, also touches on this issue of self-image.

“Too much or not enough nutrients is terrible for our bodies … we try to develop an ideal body composition. Unfortunately, our self-image is compared to the media’s views on how we look. These views are most likely unattainable.”

Not only does this issue of food addiction and obesity stem from self-image, but it also comes from various environmental pressures. The Coordinator of Recreation Services, John Papandreos, explains how students face a lot of stress, such as financial instability, personal/social relationships, work, school, and body image.

“Students, as a means to overcome these life challenges, often resort to potentially life altering measures i.e. substance abuse, eating disorders, food addictions, and even suicide,” Papandreos says.

To help those struggling with issues related to food addiction, the University of Regina offers a whole host of services such as resources for study skills to decrease stress, professional psychologists, clinical counsellors, as well as personal, group, and emergency counselling. Services like these can help combat the growing problem of obesity.

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