Binge Eating and Compulsive Overeating Linked to Chemicals


A story in The Atlantic  Monday reported a study that documents binge eating and compulsive overeating triggered by changes in brain chemistry.

For years, I have been teaching that compulsive overeating is an addiction and that it is not simply a poor decision by people who don’t care about themselves, that it is compulsion driven by biological forces, disordered brain chemistry. I’ve said that in most cases there is some sort of addictive process at work. I’ve been successful helping people lose weight permanently because I teach therapeutic technique that helps them to gain control of addictive behavior, rather than just teach about diets and exercise.

In a study published in the scientific journal Current Biology, it was shown that when a portion of the brain associated with habit and cue- response was stimulated with a drug, animals that previously exhibited “normal” eating behavior increased their consumption of chocolate by 250%. This in turn resulted in an increase of the brain’s endorphins, an opium or heroin relative that is the most notorious of addiction creators.

For years, while I was out of control and obese with my overeating, I knew that changing things was not just a matter of making up your mind. I knew that something more than will-power was needed to solve the problem. It was not until I studied addictions and behavioral medicine that I was able to lose the excess weight and keep it off. Now, here is proof that some people who are overeating and obese are dealing with something the dietitians and personal trainers just have no knowledge of. I always knew they were clueless when they insisted they knew enough to help with their simplistic approach of diet and exercise. Now, here’s proof. For some of us, its neurochemical, like chemical addictions.

So, if you’ve struggled with self-control, cravings, inability to stay with a healthy diet and all the misery associated with that and being overweight, here’s proof that you have a problem that most have not acknowledged or understood. You have a problem similar to the toughest chemical addictions known to man. Is it caused the chemicals they put in our food? Is it the stuff they put in the junk food the food companies peddle? Do we need to know exactly what the cause is to solve the problem? No.

We don’t have to have all the answers to solve the problem. Regardless of the reasons we do what we do, we can change. But the solution is not just a matter of “making up your mind”, “deciding you want it bad enough”, or to “just stop eating too much, for heaven’s sake”. You will need to get serious and learn about and apply behavioral medicine for addictions, like the Therapeutic Psychogenics I teach.

Believe me, if a pill comes along that will correct the brain chemistry and remove the eating compulsion and addiction, I’ll be the first to promote it. But if I were still waiting for that, I’d still be over 300 pounds instead of my ideal weight for the last 25 years. Don’t wait for a drug cure, even though there is now proof that the problem lies in brain chemistry. You can solve your problem today with behavior therapy designed to control addiction.


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4 Responses to Binge Eating and Compulsive Overeating Linked to Chemicals

  1. I so want to be counseled on the method, but my closest provider is about 2 hours away. I’ve read the book twice, and know face to face is the way to go. How?

    • Claudia,

      Thanks for writing. I’m so glad you liked the book! I’ve been getting a great response to it, and I need to get more to the people who it will benefit. It is so hard to be heard with all the chatter vying for people’s attention.

      If at all possible, drive the two hours for your sessions. I once had a client drive 3 hours from Miami and one drove 5 hours from Jacksonville. I saw them on Saturdays. The client from Jacksonville had family in Sarasota, so she came in Friday and combined visits. They both did very well.

      Also, I am training all therapists by phone and that has worked so well that I have worked with a few non-therapists over the phone and that has worked well too. I would categorize that as training/teaching rather than clinical counseling. If you are interested in that, email me at and we’ll arrange a talk on the phone about it. However, I no longer work on Saturdays.

      Again, thanks for writing. You are on the way to recovery of your birthright of good health. Your thinking is going there, and with that and persistence, your behavior and body will follow.

      Best wishes,

      Bill Anderson

  2. I do believe the Anderson method is a great way to combat weight gain, yet I strongly disagree with this websites publications that say anything but his way “FDA, MD’s, BigPharma, etc.” is trying to make money off of patients who fall victim to a scheme basically. I want Dr. Anderson to answer one question. What can I do if your method doesn’t work, or i cannot access it given? According to you, all of the other therapies are gimmicks? You describe chemical imbalances that you can treat, but what if I don’t respond to your method personally? Negating other methods to drop pounds and putting yours paramount will leave so many people with even less hope to get healthy. I hope you recognize that dogging on other methods that are shown to reduce weight and improve health only benefits the author of those comments and not heavy America as a whole. You do amazing work, but please keep it in fair balance for those of us who don’t respond/cannot access/need other options, etc. as options are many of our best hopes!

    • I am hopeful that drug therapies will be found that will be effective. I am critical only of ineffective interventions that are aggressively marketed to people hoping for help, while those selling them know that they are ineffective.

      I would not discourage anyone from trying something that has a possibility of helping. I only discourage using sham “solutions” where it has been established that it is a false promise. I do not condemn others’ methods that are based on science and are shown to be helpful, though I may criticize flaws they may have.

      Even when one has come upon a real solution to the problem, it may require persistent efforts to apply it, perhaps finding success and then losing one’s way again. My experience is that success occurs only with persistence, the real solution working when it is found, then not working when it is lost. I don’t believe anyone has come across what works and succeeded with it without imperfections in its application. Most successes are due to cumulative learning experiences, which, unfortunately, include learning from one’s failings.

      Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment, a welcome sincere message in a sea of spam.

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