Movie Stars & Candy Bars
Hollywood Entertainment Journalist Confesses Secret

In the midst of daily reports about our favorite stars, we have come to associate Hollywood with addiction. “To be an addict in Hollywood was not an unusual thing,” Reba Merrill asserts in her recently released memoir Nearly Famous: Secrets, Lies and Videotape.
Merrill confesses to her secret eating addiction and recounts the painful road to recovery, a road that parallels the lives of many of the movie stars featured in her book. As the addiction wore on, it began to define her and change who she was. “Fear that it would all be taken away, manifested in temperamental outbursts” that she dealt with by consuming mass amounts of sugar. Emotional outbursts began to chip away at her career and personal life.
“Studies have shown sugar turns on the pleasure receptors in our brains, and to complicate matters even further, recent findings indicate that the more sugar we eat, the more of a tolerance we develop. This makes our bodies demand more and more sugar in order to recapture the pleasurable sensation that we are seeking.” (
Merrill’s addiction began as a way to cope. After a movie executive offered her work in return for sexual favors, she “started eating candy…and put on a little weight.” A few years later, “heavier than she had ever been,” Reba continued to add pounds during her time with her mother, who spent her last days eating junk food.
Of course her openness about her problem appears only in retrospect. Despite the saturation of the mainstream media with stories about stars and their drug problems, Reba thought of drug addicts as “hookers and thieves.” Reba confesses that “she didn’t know she was an addict because it was only candy, not alcohol or drugs.”
According to Dr. Charles Raison at CNN Health, sugary foods and eating in general activate the same areas as drug use and can stimulate a brief emotional high. However, paired with its long-term depressive effects, the shame of not being able to control one’s eating habits leads to further stress and denial, which only reinforces the reliance on sugar and addictive eating.
Finally, she discovered Overeaters Anonymous, a twelve-step program which dispelled her fears of being alone in her addiction. Groups such as Overeaters Anonymous work to promote awareness and help people like Reba get the support they need. Overeaters Anonymous is a global organization devoted to spreading awareness and creating a network of support and resources. “The program is not just about weight loss, weight gain or maintenance, or obesity or diets. It addresses physical, emotional and spiritual well-being.” (
Merrill never thought she would get a second chance at the career her behavior destroyed. With a year of abstinence under her belt, she slowly rebuilt her family relationships. Sixty pounds lighter, full of energy and feeling good about herself, Reba’s career took off to even greater success.
If Reba’s struggles sound familiar and you would like to get the help you need and deserve, search “sugar addiction” or visit one of these websites:

Nearly Famous: Secrets, Lies and Videotape shares the story of Merrill’s career interviewing celebrities and behind the scenes life in Hollywood.


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