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Pointless’s Richard Osman Opens Up On Life-Long Food Addiction

Julia Banim


Pointless's Richard Osman Opens Up On Life-Long Food AddictionAlamy

Comedian Richard Osman has opened up about his life-long addiction to food, which he has previously sought therapy for.

Highly-palatable foods rich in salt, fat and sugar can release feel-good chemicals in the brain such as dopamine, in much the same way as addictive drugs. An increasing body of scientific evidence in this area shows just how serious this addiction can be.


Those with food addictions experience a loss of control over their eating, with long-term compulsive eating resulting in changes to brain chemical systems and circuits as per the Food Addiction Institute.

Richard Osman (Alamy)Alamy

During a recent episode of Desert Island Discs, Osman, 51, told host Lauren Laverne that food addiction doesn’t have the same ‘doomed glamour’ that drugs and alcohol has, adding:

But if an alcoholic came to my house they would be shocked to see bottles of gin and bottles of wine, completely untouched. Because an alcoholic couldn’t have that in their house.

And if I came to your house and there were crisps or chocolate bars untouched in the fridge, I’d be like ‘What? How are they untouched?’ – if I’m going through an episode.


Osman went on to explain that food addition ‘is identical’ to alcohol and drug addictions, remarking upon the ‘the secrecy of consuming these things, the shame behind it’.

He continued:

And food is a tricky one, because booze and drugs you can just give up. [It is] unbelievably difficult but [with] a zero-tolerance policy.

Whereas if you’re addicted to food or to love or all these things that are sustaining, you do still have to have them, and so it’s quite a hard one to work your way out of.

You can listen to the full episode of Desert Island Discs for yourself here.


If you’ve been affected by any of the issues in this article and would like to speak with someone in confidence, call the BEAT Eating Disorders helpline on 0808 801 0677. Helplines are open 365 days a year from 9am–8pm during the week, and 4pm–8pm on weekends and bank holidays. Alternatively, you can try the one-to-one webchat

Topics: Celebrity, Addiction, Food, Now


Desert Island Discs and 1 other
  1. Desert Island Discs

    Richard Osman, writer and broadcaster

  2. Food Addiction Institute

    What is Food Addiction?

Julia Banim
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