Below you’ll find a translated version of a letter published on a Dutch website. Google provided the initial translation, and I’ve gone through it and cleaned it up somewhat. The message that comes through is this:
Sugar IS Addictive & People Need Help Getting Off It!
Who: Aart Jan van der Lelij, professor of endocrinology (Erasmus MC).
Idea: fat people have a calorie problem but suffering from an addiction issue.
Expected: addiction therapy to combat the obesity epidemic.
‘In our brains is a thermostat that regulates our metabolism so that we remain at a constant weight. This system is based on the energy balance: if we need energy then we eat, when there is enough energy we stop. That basically means we should especially make use of proteins and fats. Imagine getting hungry and I give you a bowl of boiled eggs, then you eat a few. Then you are full.
“That changes when I replace the eggs with cookies. Sugar activates the hedonic system, it is food that gives a taste in the brains reward centres. That hedonic eating behaviour has no way to promote satiety: it wants to send impulses to the reward centre and has barely any stop signal. The problem is that the reward and the ‘I’m-so-happy’ feelings are linked together. Result: you eat all the cookies, even if your stomach hurts.
“Whether you’re a cigarette addict or eat a sweet dessert, it still uses the same reward system. It’s just as hard to get rid of the craving for sweet foods as to quit smoking. Now much of the food eaten is fast food, and fast food intentionally includes ingredients that maintain addiction, this means that for 99 percent of overweight people this is a lost cause [to try and lose weight without also trying to deal with the addiction]. They have become sugar junkies. Diets are useless for them, but they benefit from addiction therapy. They must learn how to deal with those enticing emotions/thoughts/feelings.
“Why do people find the American Skippy peanut butter better than the Fair Trade offering? The answer is found in the amount of added carbohydrates. Which are secretly pushed/added. The fast sugars immediately turn on the reward centres, then you only want more. Food manufacturers know that sales gimmick. Cigarettes also have the same addictive substances added to them as foods.
“And beware, because artificial sweeteners are not innocent. Diet Coke is really worse than water, we have been deceived for a long time. Once you eat something sweet – whether natural or artificial sugars – it goes through to the taste receptors on your tongue and sends a signal to the reward centres and then slowly the brakes come off. You’re going to end up eating more if you drink diet coke.
“Moreover, these receptors on the tongue and down in the duodenum are stimulated by sweetness, and these receptors stimulate the production of hormones. One of which is insulin, which removes sugar from the blood. But, Insulin is addictive. If you have too much insulin in your blood, tissues and organs become dependent on it. Even the brain has more than necessary. Normally you will get hungry when the glucose in your blood becomes too low, but if your body is addicted to sugar, you get hungry as the sugar begins to drop. After this drop you eat earlier than necessary. This creates a vicious cycle.
“With overweight people, the reward centres are more active in the brain when compared to lean and healthy people. This is partly hereditary, partly the result of learned behaviour. If, for whatever reason, you have linked eating to dealing with emotions you’ll end up eating when you need to solve a problem or feel happy. It’s like the sweets that kids get when they fall and hurt their knee, except this behaviour goes on into adulthood, when we’re supposed to have better solutions to such problems.
“Even if fat people lose weight, they continue to suffer from their addiction for years. It may be that their brains are permanently changed. The thermostat that regulates the natural appetite is too long ignored. This thermostat must be reset. The question is whether this is possible. Therefore diets always work but temporary. As the addiction takes over again.
“Behavioural therapy is better. Give someone a diet and proper therapy plan, so that it works for the long term.