Hey there, it's Susan Peirce Thompson and welcome to the Weekly Vlog. This is huge. Huge! There is an opportunity ahead of us as a community to do so much good in this world to really change the course of history. Let me explain. I've been thinking a lot this past year, probably because on my next birthday I'll be 50, and those sort of big round number milestones tend to make us think a bit about, my legacy and what needs to be done before I die for my life to be complete, for me to feel really good about things. There are two things left that really, really stand out as the things that I want to see done before I die. One of them is to get Bright Line Eating¨ into a shape, into a condition where it can and will outlive me and succeed me to help generations of people after I pass. The second is to get food addiction listed as an official disease in the DSM and the ICD.
Let me tell you about the DSM and the ICD and what's happening right now that you can help with in terms of this effort. There is a reality here that food addiction is not an official disease. It's not recognized anywhere as an official diagnosis, as a real thing. There are two main places where it needs to get recognized. One is in the DSM, which is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. That's the manual for mental disorders and conditions like schizophrenia and major depression and anxiety, things like that. It's put out by the American Psychiatric Association. It's primarily used in the United States by psychologists and clinicians and psychiatrists. It's also used widely in Australia and it's very research-based. There are very specific diagnostic criteria, like to have binge eating disorder, you have to have had this number of binge episodes per week for this many months, and you have to have five out of 10 of these symptoms and that kind of thing. Very, very specific. People around the world who are doing research on mental disorders tend to use the DSM criteria because they're so specific that they lend themselves well to research standards.
But the book that's used most worldwide is the ICD. It's the International Classification of Diseases, and it's put out by the World Health Organization, and it far precedes the DSM. The DSM came on the scene. The first one, the DSM one came out in 1952, I think, whereas the roots of the ICD go back to Paris in like 1800. It way precedes the DSM and it's used around the world far more widespread in more places. It's the classification that's used primarily in Europe for sure. And it's different than the DSM in a couple of major ways. One is that it's not just about mental disorders, it's about all diseases, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's and cancer and rickets and things like that. Things that are not mental disorders, but also its categories are broader, more vague, not vague, but just the ICD leaves it up to the clinician to decide, does someone have this or not? It's not a specific list of the number of symptoms you must have for the number of months, etc.
In a recent survey of psychiatrists in 60 plus countries around the world, what was found is that psychiatrists who were mostly diagnosing tended to use the ICD because it gave them more flexibility to be discerning in terms of a patient's diagnosis. Whereas psychiatrists who were doing research tended to use the DSM more often. Food addiction needs to be listed in both, and it's listed in neither. In 2021, a group of people that I was not involved with got together and submitted a proposal to get food addiction listed in the ICD, the World Health Organization's Handbook of Diseases. After quite a waiting period, they received a rejection letter and it was thoughtful and long and thorough, and they sent it to me and they said, Dr. Thompson, what do you think of this?
Here's what the ICD said, and the ICD said stuff like, look, we have all these categories already. All of these diagnoses around food issues and these symptoms that you're describing can very easily fit into one of the categories we already have. We've got binge eating disorder and we've got obesity and related weight struggles, and we've got whole categories of food-related struggles, and we don't need a separate category. And they said, there isn't enough evidence, there isn't enough evidence to make the change that you're proposing.
They asked my opinion, and we've been pondering this together over the last couple of years, and what's happened is a coalition is building and really it's a coalition to build a consensus to reach around the world to the 20 or 30 experts who really, really know and understand food addiction from a variety of perspectives, from the addiction science perspective, from the perspective of psychiatry, from the perspective of endocrinology and pediatric endocrinology, from the perspective of internal medicine, from all of these different perspectives. And to say, Hey, everyone, is this really a disease? If so, what should it be called? Is it food addiction? Is it eating addiction? Is it processed food addiction? Is it ultra-processed food addiction? Do we have enough evidence really to make this claim? Or are there places where there are gaps in the research literature? Because the ICD just reviewed all of the studies that were sent in some 400 studies and they wrote back and said, there's not enough evidence. Are they right about that or are there missing elements in the research literature that need to be addressed? Gaps in the literature, and let's look at the ICDs categories. Can food addiction fit into one of those categories that already exist or not? Does it need to be a separate category of a substance use disorder?
This endeavor has already started, and let me tell you what it looks like. It looks like gathering these experts together on Zoom in small groups to have them answer those questions individually and then build a consensus, build a consensus, and then host a conference in London, May 17th of next year, inviting preeminent experts to give talks and to put out a media statement and to get press, publicize the event widely, that this is the international consensus. Then while we're there in person to form committees to do two things, one is to launch studies that might address any gaps that exist. I'll tell you right now where the gaps are. They're in treatment. They're not in, is food addiction real in the brain? It is. The evidence is very strong on that. But there's very, very little published on treatment and, not shockingly, it's hard to get money to fund treatment studies on a condition that's not a condition that doesn't exist. It's a little circular here, right? We've got to raise the money to fund those studies because it's going to be hard to get funding from the outside, from the NIH and the NSF, for example, when there's no condition yet. One arm, while we're there in London, will be to form the committee to design and fundraise and execute those studies. Then the other arm will be to resubmit to the ICD with this consensus.
They have some money already for this endeavor. The endeavor has already started. I'm in one of the working groups. I've met with a group of people from Brazil and from the UK and I forget where, the Mexico, the other guy was from Mexico. We've started to build that consensus around answering those questions. It's amazing what's emerging from all of these minds working together. I am committed to going to London, May 17th, 2024 to participate in this conference. They've asked me to speak at that conference. I will tell you more about that as the time draws near and as we raise the money for it, and that is what I'm getting to. They have a little bit of money raised, but not enough. We now are at the point where if we don't have more money, this endeavor is dead in the water because it's going to take funds to do all the things that I just told you that need to be done.
Just the human hours of experts alone, I mean, I'm doing it for no pay. I think a lot of people are as well, but there are a lot of experts involved that are like, yeah, I'll come to London, but of course you're going to foot the bill for that, right? So yeah, we have a fundraising opportunity ahead of us. This is not new in Bright Line Eating Land. I don't know how long you've been around here, but in 2017 and 2018 a year apart, I put out a call to raise money for Charity Water, and you responded. Since then, over a million dollars have been raised for Charity Water. Many of you are still giving on a monthly basis to Charity Water, myself included. We've raised over a million dollars, and that means tens of thousands of people around the world, primarily in Africa and Southeast Asia, now live in villages that have clean drinking water. Tens of thousands of people thanks to the Bright Line Eating community, thanks to the work that we did together to raise that money.
Then in December of 2019, 4 years ago, I put out a vlog called, Let's Make History Together. And it was a fundraising effort to get experts together to write test bank questions that would be approved by the National Board of Medical Examiners to go on to the test that physicians take in the United States, the board exams, so that nutrition would have to be taught in medical schools, and there's a process for getting that to happen. We had to get the test questions written, and then the test questions had to be shopped around one by one to medical schools. Then when 70% of them had adopted it, it would be forced to be on the National Board of Medical Examiners exam that everyone takes. We raised that money. It was $200,000. We raised it in a day or two flat, I think it was 36 hours. We raised the $200,000. Those test bank questions got written in short order, and they've now been approved at so many medical schools around the United States and around the world. That means that nutrition is now being taught in medical schools where it wasn't taught before. We're not yet at the 70%. I don't have the latest figure for you of what percent of schools, but it's just a matter of time. Because of our efforts and the money we raised, doctors will be forced to learn nutrition in medical school.
This is not a new thing. I don't bring opportunities like this to you willy-nilly. Literally, it's those three that I can think of in terms of public fundraising efforts for causes. We did raise money for Linden back in the day, and that was a personal cause, but for public causes, it's super rare and we have an amazing opportunity ahead of us.
We don't need that much money. We don't need 200 grand. We don't need a million dollars. We need $36,000. Now it's in pounds. You can click the link below to get to the Just Giving page that they've put together. Don't be alarmed. It's in pounds because it's a World Health organization in Endeavor. The ICD is worldwide, and the folks that are hosting this are in the UK. I think we need something like 28,000 pounds left in terms of the giving page that they've set up. Just this morning I was soul searching and I'm like, okay, I can't ask people to give if I'm not willing to give, what am I willing to give? Now, I don't have much money on my own that's separate from joint accounts that my husband and I have been married since I was 24. We have joint finances. But several years ago, I asked him if I could have my own little checking account. I asked him, I just brought up the topic, so I have to ask permission, but I said, ÒHey, could I have my own little checking account so that when I buy you a gift, a birthday gift, you don't see the receipt come in before I've given you the gift? I have this one little account, and I gave, what did I give 2000 pounds, which is $2,500 out of my account, and I had to breathe before that. That's a big significant chunk of my personal funds. I just took a breath and I said, you know what, Susan, you don't get to make history very often. And if you're going to ask people to give sacrificially, I mean, I know the economy is not what it was in 2017, 18, and 19, and I know that a lot of you are thinking about spending money on holiday gifts.
As I am myself, I know that the timing is bad. The economy for many people is bad, and history is ripe for the making right now, because what happens right now, if we can get food addiction listed in the ICD, it will filter down to the DSM. They're separate bodies, but something as significant as this, they will sync up fairly soon. If it gets into the ICD, I think it'll get there first, because the World Health Organization is also really looking at the diseases caused by obesity worldwide, right? The DSM is just mental disorders, a lot more detached from the consequences of the obesity pandemic. So I think it's wise to go to the ICD first and then it'll get into the DSM and if it's in these manuals, we're talking about treatment for people who have food addiction. We're talking about health insurance covered at national levels and in the United States through health insurance companies for not just obesity treatment, but for food addiction treatment, for treatment centers, for programs like Bright Line Eating for research studies on food addiction.
We're talking about really turning the needle, moving the needle on the obesity pandemic, because what'll happen is if these processed foods get labeled as addictive, now we're talking about policy changes about what can be fed to kids and what can be advertised to kids. Maybe it'll be like, ÒLook, you can't put those cartoon characters on those sugar cereal boxes. That's not okay to market addictive foods to kids in that way. We're talking about in your and my lifetime, seeing an entire sea change in how people think about food in the policies and regulations around food and on people's health and vibrancy and well-being, and the services that they have access to that their health insurance will pay for. We're talking about doing a lot of good in the world, and that's why I personally have given to this endeavor. I plan to personally be there on the 17th of May, 2024. That event, if we've raised the money for it and it happens, we'll be live-streamed so you can attend it from your own home. There's a lot of good coming from this, a lot of good, I'm really excited. Let's see what we can do. We could do this, right? We could do this. $36,000. That's like 36 people giving a thousand dollars. Are you one of those 36 people? I'm one of those 36 people. I did double that. And then a little bit more. Are you one of those 36 people? Be one of them. I'll be watching the list of givers. I know some of your names. I can't wait to see who shows up on that list. Or it's 360 people giving a hundred dollars. Could you be one of those 360 people? Maybe you can. Or, you know what? After I gave that 2000 pounds, I went and I said, what happens if I give two pounds? That's like not even three bucks, and it accepted that donation. There's no amount too small. You can give two pounds. That's like two and a half dollars, right? I did that. It accepted the donation. Whatever you can give, go ahead, and give and look deeply.
This is a time in history when because of technology, we can sit in our bunny slippers and the comfort of our own living room and make a difference in the world, a meaningful difference in the trajectory of human history. These foods have not been around long folks. They have not been around long, and they are harming us collectively in ways that are unimaginable, and we have an opportunity to label them as addictive as they should be, and to put into motion a cascade of positive effects from the acknowledgement of that reality. We can make it happen. Click below, join me and I'll be watching your donations pour in, and I'll let you know what happens from there. I'll shoot a vlog in the future, more about that conference, more about how you can find out what's going on with it. But let's do this first. Let's get this raised. Alright, click below. Thank you so much. That's the weekly vlog. I'll see you next week.