An attitude towards eating when food becomes an habitual object for the imagination and desire results in greed to obtain food, and voracity both of appetite and consumption. Habitual eating to excess is a characteristic of diverse cultures. In it may be due to the high standard of living where great varieties of food are available, or to a high standard of culinary art, or a combination of these. In poorer cultures, the diet may be rather restricted as to variety, but excessive consumption of foods produced from a single main crop may produce protein, energy, or mineral deficiencies. Over-eating may lead to obesity and a number of illnesses, including bowel, stomach and heart disorders, and as it includes consumption of beverages, can lead to alcoholism. As a cause of being over-weight it can affect glandular functioning and personality. The glutton frequently has no regard for the wastage of food. Pathological gluttony is an incessant, uncontrollable craving for food resulting in gorging. Its medical term is bulemia and the disorder is sometimes found in connection with anorexia nervosa.
Gluttony can become characteristic of society, and is often attributed to that of Ancient Rome and more recently to the consumer society of the West. In the Middle Ages, it was placed among the seven deadly sins.
US Department of Agriculture statistics show that over the last two decades of the 20th century, food intake in the USA went up almost 150 calories per day per person – potentially resulting, on average, in an extra 6.8 kg of weight per year. It points to burgeoning portion sizes in restaurants and take-away food outlets.