This Guardian article makes a good deal of sense to me. Thanks Jax.
It reminded me of a recent conversation during which the point was made that food should not be consumed as a way of satisfying anything other than hunger, the implication being that to do otherwise constituted a form of addiction.
Funnily enough, the gentle person who made this point had been a long term breast feeder and also had, I distinctly remember, breastfed her children when they hurt themselves. I missed the chance to ask her whether she regarded herself as having been responsible for creating and feeding an addiction, which is probably only fair, given that I think she is only harsh in labelling herself.
Anyway, my point here (which was not directly covered in the article) is that one of the key factors in the argument that breast feeding appears to help with limiting obesity may be that infants who are breastfed do apparently naturally seek comfort for things other than hunger. They use breast feeding both as a means of emotional support and a way of dealing with physical pain. Breastfeeding has this advantage over bottle feeding in that breast milk is very often instantly available in times of emotional need or when the child hurts themselves.
The fact that many breastfed kids are skinny, long-limbed and fit seems to suggest that eating when stressed can make sense and that this may actually not be a terrible thing, an addiction, a cause of obesity etc, but simply the body responding appropriately to it's needs. After all, many foods produce calming or analgesic hormones and neuro-transmitters.
Intentionally, self-coercively avoiding food in these circumstances may not actually help for any number of different reasons. It could, for example, set up a sort of self-loathing, and obsession with food, which could result in being unable stop thinking about it, possibly resulting in some sort of eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia.
Simply eating when you feel stressed could mean that you just eat less later on, when you would otherwise have been hungry.
Of course, I didn't manage to make the most of the above points . Instead the libertarian in me, predictably enough, kicked in and I think I made a point that the label "addiction" is simply a pejorative description of people's free choices, and that so labelled, the behaviour does immediately become more problematic. I could have added that the pejorative label may have evolved during times when food was scarse or difficult to produce in times of emotional need. Now we have microwaved hot milk on tap, so to speak.
Would I have been talking rubbish, do you think?