I’d like to share an opportunity for our community to do so much good in this world. Right now, we can change the course of history.
On my next birthday, I’ll be 50, and perhaps because this big milestone birthday is coming up, I’ve been thinking about my legacy. I have two things I want to do before I die. First, I want Bright Line Eating to outlive me, so that it will continue to help generations of people after I pass. Second, I want to help get food addiction listed as an official disease in the DSM and ICD, the two reference manuals that are used to classify diseases and conditions. And you can help me with this effort.
Food addiction is not yet recognized anywhere as an official diagnosis. There are two places where that needs to happen. First is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), primarily used by psychologists, psychiatrists, and healthcare professionals in the U.S. and Australia. It’s research-based and very specific, listing the symptoms you need to be diagnosed with a disorder.
Second is the International Classification of Diseases (ICD), used globally and created by the World Health Organization (WHO). It’s much older than the DSM and more comprehensive. It includes both mental and physical disorders. Its categories are broader and not as specific. It’s frequently used for diagnosis, whereas the DSM is often used by those doing research.
Food addiction needs to be added to both.
In 2021, a group submitted a proposal to list food addiction in the ICD. The proposal was rejected with a thoughtful and comprehensive written response. The committee from the WHO felt that food addiction fit into the existing categories and that there wasn’t enough evidence to make the change.
Since then, a coalition has developed to build consensus among the experts who understand food addiction. We want to answer questions like: is this really a disorder? Do we have the evidence, or is evidence in some areas lacking? What should it be called—food addiction, eating addiction, processed food addiction, ultra-processed food addiction? Could it potentially fit into one of the ICD’s current categories on eating issues, obesity, and/or eating disorders, or is a new category warranted?
These experts are starting to gather in small groups to hash this out and form a consensus. On May 17, 2024, there will be a conference in London to make the international consensus public. Prior to the conference, the experts will gather in two groups to tackle two major projects: design studies to fill any research gaps and resubmit to the ICD with our consensus.
The work has already started. I’m in one of the working groups and have met people from all over the world so that we can answer the questions. I'll be in London for the conference, and I’ve been asked to speak at it.
All of this takes money. We have some, but not enough.
Raising money for important causes isn’t new for the Bright Line community. In 2017 and 2018, I put out a call to raise money for Charity: Water. You responded. Many of you still give monthly—myself included. So far, our Bright Line Eating community has raised more than $1 million, which means thousands of people around the world now have clean drinking water because of our generosity. In 2019, we raised money to write test bank questions about nutrition that would be used by medical schools. We raised $200,000 in two days. That means nutrition is now being taught in medical schools where it wasn’t taught before.
So this isn’t a new thing for us. And it’s an amazing opportunity. We only need $36,000. Click below to see the giving page. It’s in pounds because this is a global initiative, hosted in the U.K.
Just this morning, I pondered my own giving. I don’t have much money on my own, separate from my family’s finances, but I gave £2,000—about $2,500. My reasoning? I don’t get to make history very often. And if I’m going to ask people to give sacrificially, I need to step up to the plate myself. History is right here for the making.
Here’s what’s at stake—if we can get food addiction listed in these manuals, we’ll have treatments for people with this disorder. We’ll have health insurance coverage. We’ll get programs like Bright Line Eating covered by insurance. We’ll have inpatient treatment centers. We’ll get funding for research.
All this will help us move the needle on the obesity pandemic. If we can show that processed foods are addictive, you’ll start to see policy changes—changes in what can be advertised, for example, to young children. In our lifetime, we could change how people think about food. It would do so much good in the world.
That’s why I’m giving. That’s why I’ll be in London—and yes, it will be live-streamed, so you can watch it from home.
We can do this. Be one of our supporters. I know many of you, and can’t wait to see who joins us. No matter how large or small your gift, it matters.
We can make a meaningful difference in the world’s trajectory. Click below and join me.