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Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2014 Nov;47:295-306. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2014.08.016. Epub 2014 Sep 6.

"Eating addiction", rather than "food addiction", better captures addictive-like eating behavior.

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Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Psychosomatics and Psychotherapy, Universitätsklinikum Essen (AöR), Wickenburgstr. 21, D-45147 Essen, Germany.
Department of Translational Neuroscience, Brain Center Rudolf Magnus, University Medical Center Utrecht, Universiteitsweg 100, 3584 CG Utrecht, The Netherlands.
Department of Physiology, School of Medicine, University of Santiago de Compostela, 15782 Santiago de Compostela, Spain; CIBER Fisiopatología de la Obesidad y Nutrición (CIBERobn), Spain.
Centre for Integrative Physiology, University of Edinburgh, Hugh Robson Building, 15 George Square, Edinburgh EH8 9XD, UK.
Centre for Integrative Physiology, University of Edinburgh, Hugh Robson Building, 15 George Square, Edinburgh EH8 9XD, UK. Electronic address:
Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health, University of Aberdeen, Greenburn Road, Bucksburn, Aberdeen AB21 9SB, UK.
Department Physiology/Endocrine, Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, The Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg, Medicinaregatan 11, SE-405 30 Gothenburg, Sweden.


"Food addiction" has become a focus of interest for researchers attempting to explain certain processes and/or behaviors that may contribute to the development of obesity. Although the scientific discussion on "food addiction" is in its nascent stage, it has potentially important implications for treatment and prevention strategies. As such, it is important to critically reflect on the appropriateness of the term "food addiction", which combines the concepts of "substance-based" and behavioral addiction. The currently available evidence for a substance-based food addiction is poor, partly because systematic clinical and translational studies are still at an early stage. We do however view both animal and existing human data as consistent with the existence of addictive eating behavior. Accordingly, we stress that similar to other behaviors eating can become an addiction in thus predisposed individuals under specific environmental circumstances. Here, we introduce current diagnostic and neurobiological concepts of substance-related and non-substance-related addictive disorders, and highlight the similarities and dissimilarities between addiction and overeating. We conclude that "food addiction" is a misnomer because of the ambiguous connotation of a substance-related phenomenon. We instead propose the term "eating addiction" to underscore the behavioral addiction to eating; future research should attempt to define the diagnostic criteria for an eating addiction, for which DSM-5 now offers an umbrella via the introduction on Non-Substance-Related Disorders within the category Substance-Related and Addictive Disorders.


Addictive disorders; Eating addiction; Fat addiction; Food addiction; Motivation; Obesity; Reward system; Salt addiction; Sugar addiction

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