An interesting piece of information from the University of Edinburgh. Dr John Menzies from the university’s Centre for Integrative Physiology announced this week that the whole idea of fats and sugars being addictive is nonsense. He said, and I quote, ‘It’s easy to blame food. Certain individuals do have an addiction-like relationship with particular foods. But…(we could make more progress) if we think of this as a behavioural addiction rather than as a substance-based addiction.’ In other words, it’s not foods that are addictive, but the very act of eating. The only foodstuff that is truly addictive is caffeine. Sugars, fats? No. Absolutely not. Nobody exhibits withdrawal symptoms if deprived of sugar or fat. They may get grumpy because they like them, but they are not truly addictive.

This is not good news for those seeking an excuse, is it? Suddenly, the old ‘I’m addicted to food’ get-out-of-jail-free card has been taken out of the deck. The thing is that we’re genetically hardwired to seek sugars and fats, since they pack a lot of calories, and we can then lay down adipose tissue to tide us over times of food being scarce. We are predisposed to do this (except I’m not, because I have no real discernible sweet tooth), but it’s not an addiction. I thought that the revelation that foods are not addictive, it’s the act of eating itself that is the problem was very intriguing.

Of course, this did not please people such as the National Obesity Forum. They wheeled out the old argument. ‘Sugar and fat are used by the food industry as a sure-fire way of getting people hooked on their products. They are as addictive as drugs.’ Well apparently not. Of course, the NOF want to blame somebody, and they’re not going to listen to anything that undermines their beliefs.

Intriguingly, the quoted spokesman, and indeed Chair of the organisation, goes by the rather appropriate name of Fry. Yes, Mr Tam Fry is holding out against a properly constructed study and recycling old ideas based on no evidence. If you look him up, you’ll find he has an impressive sounding qualification. He’s an FRSA. That means he’s a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. Clearly somebody who knows a lot about nutrition, metabolism, addiction. He doesn’t see that there’s a whole world of difference between people liking something and it being addictive.

Dr Menzies is merely a Research Fellow at one of the most prestigious and highly respected universities in the world. What the hell does he know?