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Opinion | What if ‘Food Noise’ Is Just … Hunger?

🌈 Abstract

The article discusses the concept of "food noise" - the experience of constantly thinking about, longing for, and planning food. It argues that this should not be framed as a problem to be solved, but rather as a basic human drive and pleasure that should be embraced.

🙋 Q&A

[01] What is the concept of "food noise"?

  • "Food noise" refers to the experience of constantly thinking about, longing for, and planning food.
  • It is described as a "slick rebrand of some of the most basic human drives: hunger, appetite, craving."
  • The article argues that these drives should be seen as features, not bugs, and that we should resist the framing of appetite and hunger as problems to be solved.

[02] How is the concept of "food noise" being used in relation to new weight loss drugs?

  • References to "food noise" often appear in connection with new weight loss drugs like Ozempic and Wegovy, which have powerful appetite-suppressive effects.
  • The article states that while it's reasonable to debate the merits of these drugs for weight loss and diabetes treatment, the implicit argument that appetite itself is a problem to be solved goes too far.

[03] What are the harms of framing appetite and hunger as problems?

  • The article argues that ignoring or silencing our hunger cues is an "exercise in self-alienation" that goes against our "animal nature" and "humanness."
  • It suggests that the pleasure we take in food is an important human good, and that framing this as a problem to be treated with medication is part of a "perpetual devaluing of female pleasure and the shaming of women's visceral appetites."

[04] What perspectives are provided on the impact of appetite-suppressing drugs?

  • A researcher who contributed to the development of these drugs, Jens Juul Holst, believes that the loss of "food joy" while on them is a genuine loss and a major reason patients tend to stop taking them.
  • A patient, Aishah Simone Smith, expressed that "My life needs more pleasures, not fewer. Eating adds drama, fun, energy, to my otherwise listless and dysthymic experience. When I lost my longing for food, my life lost meaning."
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