Science and Law
1st March 2013

The Science of Obesity and Food Addiction

Is sugar really making you fat? Are certain foods really “designed” to be addictive? Over the next few weeks we will be developing a series of posts drilling down on the science of obesity and sugar, and food addiction.

The Science of Obesity and Food Addiction

Is sugar really making you fat? Are certain foods really “designed” to be addictive? Over the next few weeks we will be developing a series of posts drilling down on the science of obesity and sugar, and food addiction. Consider this the first of the series; a “kick-off” post, if you will. Leave us a comment if there is something you would really like to see covered, and don’t forgot to download the complimentary literature lists on these topics!

The media is rife with references to the growing obesity epidemic. Take Exhibit A, the cover article from the most recent issue of the New York Times magazine section: “The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food” by Michael Moss. While the focus of this article is on how junk food is created and marketed to the masses, the role of obesity in society looms front and center as the reason for the concern in the first place.

About Innovative Science Solutions

Innovative Science Solutions (ISS) is a leading scientific consulting firm for the worldwide pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and medical device industries. We are an expert team of scientists, regulatory strategists, and consultants providing a wide range of fully-integrated services to industry and counsel including:

Scientific Support to Counsel (Scientific Analysis, Scientific Strategy, Expert ID)

FDA Drug and Medical Device Advisory Committee Review Services

Regulatory Strategy Development

Dietary Supplement Claim Substantiation and Defense Services

Scientific Due Diligence

ISS’ proprietary, cloud-based platform, DataTrove®::Collaboraton Tool, is designed specifically for integrating resources, project management, and team interaction in one secure portal. Schedule a FREE demo now!

From FDA Advisory Committee meetings to complex litigation support, ISS delivers specialized solutions for your business hurdles. With over 13 years of experience, let our proven blend of success and innovation work for you.

– See more at: https://www.innovativescience.net/blog/bid/93906/Regulatory-Status-of-Caffeine#sthash.QJavqZDB.dpuf

About Innovative Science Solutions

Innovative Science Solutions (ISS) is a leading scientific consulting firm for the worldwide pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and medical device industries. We are an expert team of scientists, regulatory strategists, and consultants providing a wide range of fully-integrated services to industry and counsel including:

Scientific Support to Counsel (Scientific Analysis, Scientific Strategy, Expert ID)

FDA Drug and Medical Device Advisory Committee Review Services

Regulatory Strategy Development

Dietary Supplement Claim Substantiation and Defense Services

Scientific Due Diligence

ISS’ proprietary, cloud-based platform, DataTrove®::Collaboraton Tool, is designed specifically for integrating resources, project management, and team interaction in one secure portal. Schedule a FREE demo now!

From FDA Advisory Committee meetings to complex litigation support, ISS delivers specialized solutions for your business hurdles. With over 13 years of experience, let our proven blend of success and innovation work for you.

– See more at: https://www.innovativescience.net/blog/bid/93906/Regulatory-Status-of-Caffeine#sthash.QJavqZDB.dpuf

Ask 10 different people as to the cause of obesity and you will get 10 different answers. Even if those people are scientists. Here is a brief laundry list of the factors that have been posited as the cause of obesity in the US and in the world:

  • junk food
  • processed sugar
  • red meat
  • high fructose corn syrum (HFCS)
  • fructose
  • saturated fat
  • total fat
  • carbohydrates
  • savory flavors

In his editorial, Moss discusses and alludes to a number of these factors as he discusses the history of various types of junk food. He talks about “the bliss point” as he makes the inference that food scientists are responsible for obesity by designing foods that people love so much that they can’t stop eating them. He describes “sensory-specific satiety” as “the tendency for big, distincet flavors to overwhelm the brain, which responds by depressing your desire to have more.” This sounds like a very scientific explanation for a phenomenon that has been well characterized.

However, it is not clear that we understand the underlying causes of obesity in any way. To be sure, the factors I list above have all been studied and posited as causes of the obesity epidemic that has swept this country. Nevertheless, when one critically examines the history of the study of obesity, the only factor that is consistently associated with weight gain is total caloric intake.

For example, in a recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, investigators assessed the effect of noncaloric (the intervention) beverage intake in a group of obese/overweight adolescents compared to a control group of obese/overweight adolescents (who consumed sugar sweetened beverages regularly). Although there was a smaller increase in BMI in the experimental group vs. control group after 1 year; this difference vanished by the end of year 2 (which was the prespecificed outcome). Thus, while it is not surprising that the factor that controls whether or not we become overweight is the total amount of food that goes into our body, it seems that this notion does not seem to have always resonate with scientists or lay people.

In a New York Times blog entry published a few days after the Magazine article, Mark Bittman comments on a new study published by Dr. Robert Lustig of the University of California, San Francisco. In his study, Dr. Lustig concludes:  “Differences in sugar availability statistically explain variations in diabetes prevalence rates at a population level that are not explained by physical activity, overweight or obesity.” Bittman weighs in on the study in his opinion column: “The take-away: it isn’t simply overeating that can make you sick; it’s overeating sugar. We finally have the proof we need for a verdict: sugar is toxic.”

Lustig’s certainty notwithstanding, we clearly have a long way to go before we can find a single, well defined culprit for the obesity epidemic and the health sequela related to that epidemic. Interestingly, in contrast to Lustig’s data, as a percentage of total calories, added sugar consumption has been flat or decreasing in the US during the obesity epidemic.  A recent study by Welsh and colleagues demonstrates that older trends of increased added sugar intake have since leveled off and dramatically declined.  Welsh and colleagues report that the absolute intake of added sugars in the US decreased from 100.1 g in 1999-2000 to 76.7 g in 2007-2008, a decline of 24%. Indeed, according to an assessment by White (and consistent with the data from Welsh and colleagues), added sugar as a per cent of total calories has been declining for quite some time.

The other factor widely discussed in the Moss article (one that has gotten a great deal of press recently) is the concept of “food addiction.” The construct of “food addiction” is a controversial idea that has gained increasing popularity in recent years with both the lay media and the scientific community.  Certain foods most notably sugar, but also fatty foods, salty foods, and caffeine-containing foods have been designated by some as “addictive.” Typically, foods associated with the addiction construct tend to be highly palatable, socially and culturally “forbidden,” except for many caffeine-containing foods, and governed by predetermined perceptions of appropriate intake.

Despite these designations, there is no evidence to support the view that food can be addictive in the same way that drugs or other substances are addictive. Furthermore, there is no currently accepted definition of “food addiction” that is generally accepted in the medical community. Without a clear definition, it is impossible to have a rigorous and evidence-based discussion on the topic. Almost as difficult as it is to find one substance that is responsible for health effects associated with the obesity epidemic.

Indeed, since 2010, there has been talk that the not yet published, newest version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (the DSM-V) will have a revised definition of addiction, “eliminating the current categories of substance abuse and dependence, replacing them with the new category ‘addiction and related disorders.’” However, to date, the Substance-Related Disorders Work Group has included neither food addiction nor food dependence in their proposed revisions for the DSM-5.

In subsequent posts, we will focus in on some of these specific topics, so subscribe to our blog now to make sure you don’t miss out!

About Innovative Science Solutions

Innovative Science Solutions (ISS) is a leading scientific consulting firm for the worldwide pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and medical device industries. We are an expert team of scientists, regulatory strategists, and consultants providing a wide range of fully-integrated services to industry and counsel including:

Scientific Support to Counsel (Scientific Analysis, Scientific Strategy, Expert ID)

FDA Drug and Medical Device Advisory Committee Review Services

Regulatory Strategy Development

Dietary Supplement Claim Substantiation and Defense Services

Scientific Due Diligence

ISS’ proprietary, cloud-based platform, DataTrove®::Collaboraton Tool, is designed specifically for integrating resources, project management, and team interaction in one secure portal. Schedule a FREE demo now! Just fill out the form bellow and we will contact you with more information.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

From FDA Advisory Committee meetings to complex litigation support, ISS delivers specialized solutions for your business hurdles. With over 13 years of experience, let our proven blend of success and innovation work for you.

About Innovative Science Solutions

Innovative Science Solutions (ISS) is a leading scientific consulting firm for the worldwide pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and medical device industries. We are an expert team of scientists, regulatory strategists, and consultants providing a wide range of fully-integrated services to industry and counsel including:

Scientific Support to Counsel (Scientific Analysis, Scientific Strategy, Expert ID)

FDA Drug and Medical Device Advisory Committee Review Services

Regulatory Strategy Development

Dietary Supplement Claim Substantiation and Defense Services

Scientific Due Diligence

ISS’ proprietary, cloud-based platform, DataTrove®::Collaboraton Tool, is designed specifically for integrating resources, project management, and team interaction in one secure portal. Schedule a FREE demo now!

From FDA Advisory Committee meetings to complex litigation support, ISS delivers specialized solutions for your business hurdles. With over 13 years of experience, let our proven blend of success and innovation work for you.

– See more at: https://www.innovativescience.net/blog/bid/93906/Regulatory-Status-of-Caffeine#sthash.QJavqZDB.dpuf

Recent Related Articles

Dr. David Schwartz’s IADC Presentation: The Use of Genetic Testing in the Courtroom [Download Slides]
15 July 2020
Dr. David Schwartz’s IADC Presentation: The Use of Genetic Testing in the Courtroom [Download Slides]

On Wednesday July 8, 2020, Dr. David Schwartz of Innovative Science Solutions presented at the IADC 2020 Virtual Annual Meeting on a panel titled The Use of Genetic Testing in the Courtroom. A complimentary copy of the panel presentation is now available for download. Read more

The Use of Genetic Testing in the Courtroom: Dr. David Schwartz will be Presenting at the IADC 2020 Virtual Annual Meeting
02 July 2020
The Use of Genetic Testing in the Courtroom: Dr. David Schwartz will be Presenting at the IADC 2020 Virtual Annual Meeting

Dr. David Schwartz of Innovative Science Solutions will be presenting at the IADC 2020 Virtual Annual Meeting on a panel titled The Use of Genetic Testing in the Courtroom. Read more

WEBINAR ANNOUNCEMENT: What’s in Those Genes?
12 June 2020
WEBINAR ANNOUNCEMENT: What’s in Those Genes?

Genetic Evidence Concerning Causation for Mesothelioma 16 June 2020 at 2pm Eastern Daylight Time. Read more

Talc and Asbestos Defendants Should Monitor and Utilize Published Studies Linking Mesothelioma to Genomic Causes
28 April 2020
Talc and Asbestos Defendants Should Monitor and Utilize Published Studies Linking Mesothelioma to Genomic Causes

Plaintiff experts having been asserting for decades that all mesotheliomas must be linked to some asbestos exposure. Indeed, this has led to the erroneous (but widespread) view that mesothelioma is a signature disease, only caused by asbestos exposure. Read more

Let’s work together

The journey to scientific and commercial success is often complex and always critical, if you are looking for an expert partner to help steer you to confident solutions, contact us today

Contact us