Highly Processed Food Addiction

The Lempert Report
February 09, 2023

A new poll from the National Poll on Healthy Aging has just come out, talking about one in eight Americans over the age of 50 have food addictions. Intense craving lead symptoms of addiction, a highly processed foods, no surprise, nearly one in four respondents saying that at least once a week, they had a strong urge to eat food in this category that they couldn't think of anything else. Are we that bad in our place where we have to get addicted to processed foods? 

Sally: Well, you know, reading this story, Phil, I did think to myself, okay, do I once a week think of eating highly processed food? And, you know, maybe I do once a week think about french fries from McDonald's and really, really want them, but yeah, it's not surprising because highly processed foods are, we are surrounded by them. And you know, what's even more alarming to me is that while in this, in these findings, 32% of women are saying that they are not in good physical health. 14% of men say they are not in good physical health. What's more alarming to me is that 45% of women say that they are not in good mental health, and 23% of men say the same thing. And I think this is really coming to the surface right now, particularly now that we're out past this pandemic and, and those, those mental illness rates increased, and we have to think about our mental health and how that is connected to our food and addiction and the way that we take care of ourselves. 

Phil: Yeah, I agree. Two points that I wanna make. One is this weekend I just discovered that we're not post pandemic. I have two people that I know that got covid, this past weekend. 

Sally: It's still here.

Phil: It's still here. But what I love about this University of Michigan psychologist, Ashley Gerhardt, PhD, who did this study of over 2100 participants, what she also said, which I think is a note for all of us to take, is that they have 13 questions to determine whether and how often older adults experience the core indicators of addiction. And what they say is that these set of questions can be incorporated into clinical screenings that often at office visits to help identify adults with food addiction, who can benefit from nutritional counseling, support groups, etcetera, etcetera. Hey, why not give these 13 questions to every retail dietitian that's out there as a tool to help consumers to help their shoppers understand if they do have a food addiction, and then being able to give a food prescription to them on how to get past it.