Growing evidence food addiction is real - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Growing evidence food addiction is real

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Hillary Buckholtz, 33, says she's never had a normal relationship with food. She says her lifelong battle with overeating left her obese at just 11 years old.

Reporter: How much did you weigh at your heaviest?

Hillary Buckholtz: I think it was about 300 pounds, but I had stopped weighing myself because it was too depressing, I was in denial.

A recent study in Canada found as many as 1 in 20 people could be addicted to food.

"Sugary, fatty, salty food combinations that actually hack into the reward center in your brain-- they cause changes that literally leave you addicted to that food," said Dr. Pamela Peeke, a senior science advisor at Elements Behavioral Health.

Peeke says treating patients with food addiction is a little trickier than treating patients with substance problems, because you can't simply stop eating.

"You can most certainly eliminate and avoid the foods that ignite your rewards center," Peeke said.

Peeke discovered that refined sugars were triggering Buckholtz's overeating. She cut them out of her diet and lost weight.

Reporter: Do you believe you'll ever get over your food addiction?

Hillary Buckholtz: I don't. I do see it as a chronic condition, something I have to manage for the rest of my life.

She's in recovery now, getting support from other overeaters in a program for food addicts.

While research has shown a strong connection between food addiction and obesity, one study found as many as 11 percent of normal-weight participants could also be diagnosed as food addicts.

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