Food Addiction, Obesity, and Eating DisordersDr. Taubes’ book, Why We Get Fat and What to Do About It explains – from a hormonal point of view, why ‘fattening foods’ such as sugar and carbohydrates actually makes us hungrier.  You might expect that the fattening foods would fill us up. Not according to Dr. Taubes. If we are eating sugar, we actually crave more food. Dr. Taubes explores how insulin, the hormone that transports the sugar in our blood stream, has to increase in order to accommodate the excess sugar in the blood. This augmented insulin does not serve us well. It aids in amplifying our cravings for sugar.

When sugar is introduced into the blood, insulin transports the required amounts to the brain and muscles.  It stores the excess sugar in the fat cells, as a way of preventing high blood sugar. However, over time, when sugar loads are high, as in a binge, the fat cells get especially proficient in storing the sugar.

The frightening part is that the fat cells become so proficient in storing sugar that insulin will  be diverted to them, instead of going to the brain and muscle cells first. These still need  sugar to operate effectively. Essentially, the fat cells increasingly ‘steal’ from the other cells, regardless of the body requirements. This causes fatigue, mental fogginess, anxiety and cravings. These are the signals from the brain and body that it needs sugar.

Over time, the person literally becomes ‘starved’ of the necessary energy requirements of the brain and body – even though the caloric intake is high. The person feels hungry, even though he / she is actually full. More hunger leads to more bingeing. The cycle goes on and on. And obesity is the end result.

The more obese a person becomes as a result of this, the more sugar is being redirected to fat cells, instead of to the brain and muscles that need the energy. Although the obese person has an abundant ‘storage’ of energy in the fat cells, the obese person is actually more ‘starved’ than the lean person. They are more tired, more irritable, and hungrier – more in need of food than the lean person.

Obesity is the net effect of very proficient fat cells. These fat cells have been trained over time to snatch sugar from the bloodstream – before the deleterious effects of high blood sugar, or diabetes occur.  Obesity is the physical evidence of sugar being preferentially stored in fat cells, instead of where it should be going. This fat storage occurs, not so that energy is available when food is not obtainable, as we have been lead to believe, but to protect the body from the damaging effect of sugar on our blood vessels and organs.

Obesity is not evidence of poor willpower. It is the result of an evolutionary hormonal precaution to fend off the dangerous onslaught of sugar.