Obesity and the brain: how convincing is the addiction model?

Nat Rev Neurosci. 2012 Mar 14;13(4):279-86. doi: 10.1038/nrn3212.


An increasingly influential perspective conceptualizes both obesity and overeating as a food addiction accompanied by corresponding brain changes. Because there are far-reaching implications for clinical practice and social policy if it becomes widely accepted, a critical evaluation of this model is important. We examine the current evidence for the link between addiction and obesity, identifying several fundamental shortcomings in the model, as well as weaknesses and inconsistencies in the empirical support for it from human neuroscientific research.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Behavior, Addictive / physiopathology*
  • Behavior, Addictive / psychology
  • Brain / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Hyperphagia / physiopathology*
  • Hyperphagia / psychology
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Obesity / physiopathology*
  • Obesity / psychology