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Medication to Help Overcome Food Obsession

written by: Jacqueline Chinappi • edited by: Paul Arnold • updated: 1/31/2011

Television shows, weight loss programs, and online support systems are used by people to learn how to eat properly. Food obsession medication is also available to help people overcome their fixation on food.

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    Since 2004, “The Biggest Loser" TV show has been showing viewers that with exercise and healthy eating habits a person can lose weight fast. Of course the reality TV participants undergo a rigorous training program and have personal trainers as well as a medical team showing them how to eat. While these contestants can overcome their food fixation with the help of television, how can average people overcome theirs?

    If exercise and eating healthy were that easy, everyone would be a healthy weight and there would be no eating disorders. Are there options for those people who have no will power and who just cannot conquer food obsession? The answer is yes.

    Food obsession medication is one means, and it can have positive results.

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    Food Obsession: Binge Eating

    Experts believe and research has shown that binge eating can be caused by a number of factors including emotions, experience, or genetics.

    Some people may try to overcome their depression or mood swings by overeating. But this compulsion to eat becomes an unhealthy coping mechanism. As with other types of depressive disorders, the individual can be prescribed antidepressants which will first control the depressive symptoms and then in turn control the emotional eating. Whilst they may be effective in treating food obsessions, the patient is more susceptible to relapse if they stop taking these medications.

    Antidepressants have also been shown to curb binge eating when compared to a placebo according to a review of seven studies by Josue Bacaltchuk, associate professor of psychiatry at the Federal University of Sao Paulo in Brazil. Overall, 41% of participants ending their binge eating within eight weeks after taking antidepressants such as Prozac and Zoloft for their food obsessions. Six out of the seven studies conducted had used Prozac, Zoloft, Luvox, or Celexa. These medications are all classified as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs. SSRIs work to increase the levels of serotonin in the body.

    Appetite suppressants are another type of food obsession medication that can help curb eating:

    Noradrenergic Appetite Suppressants:

    Noradrenergic appetite suppressants trick the body into thinking it is less hungry or that the stomach is full up sooner. They do this by working on the central nervous system, in particular by causing the release of two hormones - epinephrine and norepinephrine - that interfere with the brain's signals to the body that it's time to start feeling hungry. The noradrenergic appetite suppressants work by blocking the reuptake of norepinephrine, so there is more of it swilling around the brain which acts on neurons to create a feeling of fullness and decreased hunger.

    Some common noradrenergic appetite suppressants include:

    • Sibutramine

    Brand Name: Meridia

    • Phentermine

    Brand Name: Adipax, Fastin

    • Diethylpropion

    Brand Name: Tenuate

    Natural Appetite Suppressants:

    Natural appetite suppressants which are 100% natural do not need any FDA approval. Some of the more common food suppressants which are naturally based contain hoodia. Hoodia comes from southern Africa and is similar to the cactus plant.

    Green tea, combined with other plant extracts, also helps to hinder food intake. While natural supplements may seem the safer route, people should check with their doctors before starting any medications.

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    References:

    Laino, C. (2005). Study shows SSRI antidepressants curb out-of-control food consumption. Retrieved from, http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/binge-eating-disorder/news/20050525/antidepressants-may-help-control-binge-eating

    http://www.drugs.com/hoodia.html

    http://www.medscape.org/viewarticle/416481_3

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