Can Weight Loss Cause Hypersexuality Disorder?

Former Subway spokesperson Jared Fogle appeared in an Indianapolis federal court Thursday and was sentenced to 15 years and eight months in prison, according to The Indianapolis Star. Fogle was charged with having and distributing child pornography, as well as traveling across state lines to have sex with a minor, and pleaded guilty in August. According to reporters in the courtroom during the hearing, forensic psychiatrist Dr. John Bradford said in his testimony that Fogle's compulsive hypersexuality disorder developed after he lost weight, implying that the two were linked. Bradford's testimony brings up an important question: Can weight loss cause compulsive hypersexuality disorder as Fogle's psychiatrist suggested?

Compulsive hypersexuality disorder (also called compulsive sexual behavior, nymphomania, or sex addiction) is the obsession with sexual thoughts, urges, or behaviors. After evaluating Fogle, Bradford testified that the defendant developed the disorder after he famously lost more than 200 pounds by eating Subway sandwiches. "Once he lost weight, it seemed as though in a short time he had hyper-sexuality," Bradford said. "There are brain disorders that can be associated with sexual drive." RTV6's Jordan Fischer reported that Bradford also said Fogle's alleged hypersexuality could have affected his impulse control.

In court, Fogle called his actions "horrible" and said he began to live a life of lies, according to WTHR. Since he expressed regret for his crimes, Bradford said Fogle was different than rapists and child molesters who typically try to rationalize their actions.

Because Fogle had a compulsive eating disorder before losing weight, according to Bradford, it's possible that his compulsive tendencies switched to those of a sexual nature after he lost weight. Hypersexuality has been linked to hyperactive stress systems, meaning people with the disorder have higher levels of stress hormones than controls, and stress can also lead to overeating. In this sense, weight loss on its own doesn't cause hypersexuality, but compulsive eating and compulsive sexual behavior can both stem from stress issues. So, an underlying problem could have led to both Fogle's overeating and hypersexuality, but losing more than 200 pounds didn't suddenly make Fogle a sex addict.

Judge Tanya Walton Pratt sentenced Fogle to 15 years and eight months in prison, which is pretty conservative considering he faced as many as 50 years behind bars. Because he will be a federal prisoner, he must serve at least 85 percent of his sentence. Pratt described Fogle as having a "privileged" upbringing before becoming obsessed with sex and minors, according to The Indianapolis Star. She said at the sentencing: "Federal judges do not sentence based on emotion or public sentiment."