The concept of "food addiction" helps inform the understanding of overeating and obesity: NO

Am J Clin Nutr. 2021 Feb 2;113(2):268-273. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/nqaa344.


Overeating is a complex behavioral phenotype in terms of both physiology and psychology. The mere transference of the diagnostic criteria for substance use disorders to define food addiction is too simplistic, for the following reasons: 1) a range of somatic and mental disorders require exclusion; 2) food addiction requires distinction from the physiological need to ingest sufficient calories to maintain a high body weight; 3) intentional weight loss can induce an eating behavior mimicking food addiction; 4) the concept lacks validation, especially in light of the high prevalence of "food addiction" in patients with anorexia nervosa; and 5) this construct has not led to novel and successful treatments for overeating and obesity. The concept of food addiction has the potential to distract from the need for focus on environmental influencers to combat the obesity pandemic.

Keywords: atypical depression; binge eating disorder; food environment; prevention; uncontrolled eating.

MeSH terms

  • Food Addiction*
  • Humans
  • Hyperphagia*
  • Obesity*