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Using addiction treatment techniques to tackle obesity

Odyssey House President Dr. Peter Provet comments on the Institute of Medicine’s recent report on America’s obesity epidemic and its similarity to addictive disorders.

The Institute of Medicine Report on the obesity epidemic in America is welcome news. It may be the wakeup call the country requires to seriously address this public health disaster. We need an education and prevention campaign that focuses on children and adults, supports parents, and funds treatment services to help those struggling to live healthier lives.

Sound familiar? To those of us who work with substance abusers it is analogous to the heroin epidemic of the 1960s and 70s, crack and cocaine in the 80s and 90s, and methamphetamine and prescription drug abuse today.

Then, as now, thousands of people were sick and in danger of dying, and Americans were scared of losing whole generations to an addictive disorder. No one would claim high fat foods and sugar saturated beverages are the same as heroin, cocaine and other illicit drugs of abuse, but overeating to the extent it damages one’s health, family, and work life matches the diagnosis of addiction and warrants a national treatment response.

At Odyssey House today, we are addressing some of these challenges with proven addiction treatment techniques of group support, role modeling, and fitness activities that promote health and protect against relapse. We now have the opportunity to use what we have learned from earlier addiction epidemics to confront obesity.

Peter Provet, Ph.D.
President & CEO
Odyssey House

Click here to read the Institute of Medicine report, Accelerating Progress in Obesity Prevention: Solving the Weight of the Nation,” in full.

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