Further developments in the neurobiology of food and addiction: update on the state of the science

Nutrition. 2012 Apr;28(4):341-3. doi: 10.1016/j.nut.2011.11.002. Epub 2012 Feb 3.


Over the past three decades, obesity has become a major public health crisis in the United States. The prevalence of obesity in the United States and in other parts of the world has led to a new word, "globesity," being used to describe the problem. As a result of this increased emphasis on understanding the causes and consequences of obesity, novel theories have stimulated new research aimed to prevent, intervene in and ameliorate the effects and decrease the incidence and medical consequences of globesity. One theory that has gained popularity in recent years, is based on the idea that an excessive intake of highly palatable foods shares similarities with the effects on brain and behavior that are seen with some drugs of abuse. Although this theory is not new, empirically-based translational research has only recently provided strong support for this hypothesis. In the present article, we review the present state of the science in this area and describe some newer clinical and preclinical works that shed light on innovative and interesting overlaps between excessivly palatable food intake and drug use.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Behavior, Addictive*
  • Brain*
  • Diet / psychology*
  • Energy Intake*
  • Food Preferences / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Neurobiology
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Obesity / psychology*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology*
  • United States