PEKIN, Ill., Jan. 9, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- About two-thirds of adults in the United States are overweight, according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which has spurred awareness of food addiction around the country. Given the severity of the problem and the increasing national concern of the relationship between food and addiction, a center focus of new fields of research has developed. Given its rising importance to both sufferers and professionals who treat, the 27th annual iaedp (International Association of Eating Disorders Professionals) 2013 Symposium, held on March 20-24 at the Westin Lake Las Vegas Resort, will feature leading eating disorder professionals discussing new studies detailing the research, science and clinical practices of food and addiction.
Recent studies have uncovered a critical clue to help explain a link between food and addiction, which Pamela M. Peeke, MD, MPH, FACPI, will detail in her symposium presentation, Food and Addiction: The Dopamine Made Me Do It. PET scans have identified organic changes in the brain's reward center during active addiction, whether from food or drug addiction. Specifically, chronic exposure to sugary/fatty/salty food combinations appears to reduce the dopamine receptor population. This leads to a dramatic reduction in perceived pleasure and satisfaction, which results in a cycle of seeking more of the food and, consequently, overeating.
Dr. Peeke also will have a separate presentation describing studies concerning the biology and behavior challenges of food and addiction. Studies have shown that in all addictions, there are organic brain changes as well as conditioned behavioral responses that both have to be addressed in prevention and treatment. Therefore, Dr. Peeke claims that the biology and psychology of food addition are intertwined.
Eating disorder specialist, Elisha M. Contner, MS, LMFT, CEDS, also will present findings on the connection between food and addiction and how to treat it appropriately. As a clinician, Contner states that there should be a clear and precise assessment of the eating disorder. The assessment process needs to determine if the food addiction is a primary diagnosis or a co-occurring diagnosis to an existing eating disorder; thereby, the patient would need a treatment plan to address the food addiction appropriately.
"An important focus for each annual Symposium is to deeply consider the serious eating disorders our nation must deal with," said Bonnie Harken, managing director of iaedp. "There's a lot of variety in the treatment topics covered, and our speakers, both in food addiction and other areas of interest, are some of the most accomplished and well-known in their fields."
Since 1985, the International Association of Eating Disorders Professionals has provided education and training standards to an international and multidisciplinary group of various healthcare treatment providers and helping professions.