Junk food addiction should be classified as a real disorder, activists have demanded today.
Experts say it’s just as dangerous as being hooked on alcohol, tobacco, or even drugs like cocaine.
High-sugar diets and ultra-processed foods can cause obesity and therefore its deadly collateral complications.
The Public Health Collaboration (PHC) estimates that 20 percent of Britons, roughly 10 million people, are addicted to these foods.
The charity will now ask the WHO to turn junk food addiction into a true substance use disorder.
Experts fear that millions are still at risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease by gorging on ultra-processed foods loaded with sugar, fat and salt. The UK charity Public Health Collaboration (PHC) is now ready to ask the World Health Organization (WHO) to turn junk food addiction into a substance use disorder, including drugs, alcohol and cigarettes. .
Around two-thirds of those aged 16 and over in England (64 per cent) are now overweight, including tens of thousands who are morbidly obese. This is an 11 percent increase from 1993, when 53 percent were considered overweight. Experts blame sedentary lifestyles and unhealthy diets. Source: England Health Survey 2021
Alcohol, cigarette and drug addictions have been on their international list of such diseases for decades.
In 2018, the UN agency also added ‘gaming disorder’ after a decade of monitoring computer games.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines, addictive behaviors are repetitive and recognizable by not having control over what you are doing, drinking or using, to the point where it could be harmful to you.
Jen Urwin, Registered Health and Clinical Psychologist, speaking on behalf of PHC, told MailOnline: ‘PHC is campaigning to make food addiction a recognized condition so that people can get the help they need to quit their cravings for ultra-processed foods. .
“We believe that the addictive consumption of these foods underlies in part the current epidemics of obesity, diabetes, and mental illness.”
The PHC is calling’the public, health professionals and government to support efforts to recognize the harms of ultra-processed foods,’ he said.
Tam Fry, Chairman of the National Obesity Forum, told MailOnline: ‘I am confident that the Collaborative will be successful in their lawsuit.
“If the WHO were to compare food addiction to substance abuse, it could scare the UK government into cracking down on obesity.”
He added: ‘Since 1992, when the Conservative government launched the UK’s first public health policy, each successive government has fueled the country’s food addiction by failing to confront an industry that mixes its products with tempting fat, sugar and salt at every opportunity. .
‘Downing Street is repeatedly enslaved by manufacturers and refuses to place restrictions on the practice.
‘Manufacturers know that from the earliest years, if you can hook your children’s taste buds with such ingredients, you are likely to have customers for life.’
He said: ‘The bold plan we were promised eight years ago to halve obesity by 2030 is still gathering dust in the Prime Minister’s inbox.
“The plan put food rebalancing at the top of the list, but the government hasn’t lifted a finger to address it.”
Obesity and overweight rates have fallen this year after skyrocketing during the Covid pandemic, but are still higher than before the lockdown
Obesity rates are also skyrocketing in children, with a quarter of children at reception now considered overweight, and one in ten obese.
There is growing evidence that certain foods, especially those with highly refined sugars and fats, can be addictive.
The term “food addiction” was first introduced in 1956.
But PHC’s call applies to junk food, so people can access effective help to curb their cravings for ultra-processed foods.
Earlier this month, University of Michigan researchers also claimed that foods like donuts and pizza meet the official criteria that established cigarettes as a drug in the 1990s.
These include causing compulsive use and mood-altering effects in the brain, and having properties or ingredients that reinforce addiction or trigger cravings.
Being at an unhealthy weight increases your risk of serious and life-threatening diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, some cancers, and stroke.
Around two-thirds of those aged 16 and over in England (64 per cent) are overweight, including tens of thousands who are morbidly obese.
Rates have been rising for decades, and experts blame sedentary lifestyles and unhealthy diets.
Obesity rates are also skyrocketing in children, with a quarter of children at reception now considered overweight and one in ten obese.
It is estimated that the obesity epidemic eats up £6.1bn of the NHS budget each year due to weight related diseases.
The figure is projected to rise to £9.7bn per year by 2050, as the nation gets even fatter.
Yesterday Sir Chris Whitty also told MPs that “obesity is going in the wrong direction” and suggested that more attention should be paid to preventing ill-health in deprived areas.
He said obese people living in these regions are often unhelpfully framed as “healthy people just making individual decisions” when, in fact, their choices when it comes to food and exercise “are very, very restricted.”