Back by Popular Demand: A Narrative Review on the History of Food Addiction Research (2015)

Go to:


In recent years, the concept of food addiction has gained more and more popularity. This approach acknowledges the apparent parallels between substance use disorders and overeating of highly palatable, high-caloric foods. Part of this discussion includes that “hyperpalatable” foods may have an addictive potential because of increased potency due to certain nutrients or additives. Although this idea seems to be relatively new, research on food addiction actually encompasses several decades, a fact that often remains unrecognized. Scientific use of the term addiction in reference to chocolate even dates back to the 19th century. In the 20th century, food addiction research underwent several paradigm shifts, which include changing foci on anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, obesity, or binge eating disorder. Thus, the purpose of this review is to describe the history and state of the art of food addiction research and to demonstrate its development and refinement of definitions and methodologies.

Keywords: food addiction, obesity, binge eating, anorexia, bulimia, substance dependence, chocolate


In recent years, the concept of food addiction has become increasingly popular. This concept includes the idea that certain foods (usually highly processed, highly palatable, and highly caloric foods) may have an addictive potential and that certain forms of overeating may represent an addicted behavior. This increased popularity is reflected not only in a high number of media reports and lay literature [1,2], but also in a substantial increase in the number of scientific publications (Figure 1) [3,4]. In 2012, for example, a comprehensive handbook on food and addiction was published because “science has reached a critical mass to the point where an edited book is warranted” [5]. This increased interest appears to have created the impression that the idea of food addiction only became relevant in the 21st century because of the increasing availability of highly processed foods and that the concept of food addiction was developed in an effort to explain increasing prevalence rates of obesity [6]. Some researchers even refer to alleged pioneering work in food addiction research by citing articles that were published in this century [7,8].

Figure 1 

Number of scientific publications on food addiction in the years 1990-2014. Values represent the number of hits based on a Web of Science search conducted for each year separately, using the search term “food addiction” and selecting “topic”

As will be demonstrated throughout this paper, this notion about food addiction being a new idea, which originated in recent years and may explain the obesity pandemic, is wrong. Therefore, this article briefly presents the development of food addiction research. One aim is to demonstrate that its history, although it is a relatively new field of research, actually encompasses several decades and the association between food and addiction even dates back to the 19th century. In the 20th century, focus areas of and opinions about food addiction changed dynamically, such as the types of foods and eating disorders that were proposed to be related to addiction and the methods that were used to investigate eating behavior from an addiction perspective (Figure 2). The current article, however, does not intend to outline the various phenomenological and neurobiological parallels between overeating and substance use or speculate about possible consequences and implications of the food addiction concept for treatment, prevention, and public policy. All of these issues have been extensively discussed elsewhere [921]. Finally, this article does not intend to evaluate the validity of the food addiction concept.

Figure 2 

Some focus areas with selected references in the history of food addiction research.

Late 19th and Early 20th Century: First Beginnings

The Journal of Inebriety was one of the first addiction journals and was published from 1876 to 1914 [22]. During this time, different terms were used to describe excessive alcohol and drug use (e.g., habitual drunkenness, inebriety, ebriosity, dipsomania, narcomania, oinomania, alcoholism, and addiction). Interestingly, the term addiction as used in the Journal of Inebriety primarily referred to dependence upon drugs other than alcohol and first appeared in 1890 in reference to chocolate [22]. Subsequently, the addictive properties of “stimulating” foods were also mentioned in other issues of the journal [17]. For instance, Clouston [23] stated that when “a brain has depended on stimulating diet and drink for its restoration when exhausted, there is an intense and irresistible craving set up for such food and drink stimulants whenever there is fatigue.”

In 1932, Mosche Wulff, one of the pioneers of psychoanalysis, published an article in German, the title of which may be translated as “On an Interesting Oral Symptom Complex and Its Relationship to Addiction” [24]. Later, Thorner [25] referred to this work, stating that “Wulff links overeating, which he calls food addiction, with a constitutional oral factor and differentiates it from melancholia insofar as the food addict simply introjects erotically in place of a genital relationship while the melancholic incorporates in a sadistic and destructive manner.” While this psychoanalytical perspective on overeating is certainly outdated and appears disconcerting nowadays, it is nonetheless remarkable to see that the idea of describing overeating as an addiction was already existent in the 1930s.

1950s: Coining of the Term ‘Food Addiction’

The term food addiction was first introduced in the scientific literature by Theron Randolph in 1956 [26]. He described it as “a specific adaptation to one or more regularly consumed foods to which a person is highly sensitive [which] produces a common pattern of symptoms descriptively similar to those of other addictive processes.” He also noted, however, that “most often involved are corn, wheat, coffee, milk, eggs, potatoes and other frequently eaten foods.” This view has changed, as nowadays highly processed foods with high sugar and/or fat content are discussed as being potentially addictive [27].

Randolph was not the only one using the term food addiction around this time. In an article published in 1959, a panel discussion that revolved around the role of environment and personality in the management of diabetes was reported [28]. During this discussion, Albert J. Stunkard (1922-2014) [29], a psychiatrist whose article in which he first described binge eating disorder (BED) was published in the same year [30], was interviewed. For instance, he was asked, “One of the most common and difficult problems we face is that of food addiction, both in the genesis of diabetes and its treatment. Are there physiological factors involved in this mechanism or is it all psychological? What is its relation to alcohol addiction and addiction to narcotics?” [28]. Stunkard replied that he does not think that the term food addiction “is justified in terms of what we know about addiction to alcohol and drugs.” However, what is more important for the historical examination in the present article is that he also stated that the term food addiction is widely used, which further supports that the idea of food addiction was well-known among scientists and the general public as early as the 1950s.

1960s and 1970s: Overeaters Anonymous and Occasional Mentions

Overeaters Anonymous (OA), a self-help organization based on the 12-step program of Alcoholics Anonymous, was founded in 1960. Accordingly, OA advocates an addiction framework of overeating, and the group’s primary purpose is to abstain from using the identified addictive substance (i.e., certain foods). Little research has been conducted on OA in its more than 50 years of existence, and although participants agree that OA was helpful to them, there is no consensus regarding how OA “works” [31,32]. Nevertheless, OA would not remain the only self-help organization with an addiction perspective on overeating, as similar self-help groups were established in the decades that followed [17].

Scientific research on the concept of food addiction, however, was virtually non-existent in the 1960s and 1970s, but some researchers sporadically used the term in their articles. For example, food addiction was mentioned along with other substance use problems in two papers by Bell in the 1960s [33,34] and was mentioned in the context of food allergies and otitis media in 1966 [35]. In 1970, Swanson and Dinello referred to food addiction in the context of high rates of weight regain after weight loss in obese individuals [36]. To conclude, although there were no efforts to systematically investigate the concept of food addiction in the 1960s and 1970s, it was already used by self-help groups with the aim of reducing overeating and used in scientific articles in the context of or even as a synonym for obesity.

1980s: Focus on Anorexia and Bulimia Nervosa

In the 1980s, some researchers attempted to describe the food restriction displayed by individuals with anorexia nervosa (AN) as an addictive behavior (or “starvation dependence”) [37]. For example, Szmukler and Tantam [38] argued that “patients with AN are dependent on the psychological and possibly physiological effects of starvation. Increased weight loss results from tolerance to starvation necessitating greater restriction of food to obtain the desired effect, and the later development of unpleasant ‘withdrawal’ symptoms on eating.” This idea was later facilitated by the discovery of the role of endogenous opioid systems in AN [39,40]. Of note, however, the role of endorphins also was discussed in the opposite condition, that is, obesity [41,42]. Similarly, obesity was investigated under the food addiction framework in a study published in 1989, in which obese persons were compared with normal-weight controls on their level of “object representation” [43].

There were also some studies on bulimia nervosa (BN) from an addiction perspective, which originated from the field of personality psychology. These studies were preluded by two articles from 1979, which reported elevated scores on a measure of addictive personality in obese individuals [44] but lower scores in both anorexic and obese individuals as compared to smokers [45]. Comparative studies between groups of substance dependent and bulimic patients also produced inconsistent findings, with some studies finding similar scores on personality measures across groups and some studies finding differences [4649]. These studies on addictive personality in BN were accompanied by a case study, in which substance abuse was found to be a useful metaphor in the treatment of BN [50] and the development of the “Foodaholics Group Treatment Program” [51].

1990s: Chocoholics and Critical Remarks

Following these first attempts to describe eating disorders as an addiction, there were some comprehensive reviews published in the 1990s and in 2000, in which the addiction model of eating disorders was critically discussed based on conceptual, physiological, and other considerations [5255]. However, with the exception of a few articles, two in which addictive personality in individuals with eating disorders or obesity were investigated [56,57] and two in which unusual cases of addiction-like carrot consumption were reported [58,59], a new research focus seemed to have emerged: chocolate.

Chocolate is the most often craved food in Western societies, particularly among women [60,61], and the food that people most often have problems with controlling consumption [27,62]. It was already noted in 1989 that chocolate has a combination of high fat and high sugar content, which makes it a “hedonically ideal substance” [63] — an idea which is similar to speculations about “hyperpalatable” addictive foods some 25 years later [3,27]. In addition to chocolate’s macronutrient composition, other factors like its sensory properties or psychoactive ingredients such as caffeine and theobromine also were discussed as contributors to the addictive-like nature of chocolate [64,65]. However, the xanthine-based effects of chocolate have been found to be unlikely to explain liking for chocolate or its addiction-like consumption [61].

Few studies were conducted in which so-called “chocoholics” or “chocolate addicts” were investigated. One was a descriptive study reporting craving and consumption patterns among other variables [66]; another one compared similar measures between “chocolate addicts” and controls [67]; and one study compared such groups on subjective and physiological responses to chocolate exposure [68]. A major shortcoming of these studies was, however, that “chocolate addiction” status was based on self-identification, which is vulnerable to bias and validity and is limited by the fact that most nonprofessional participants do not have a precise definition of addiction. Finally, two studies examined associations between “chocolate addiction” and addiction to other substances and behaviors and found positive, but very small, relationships [69,70].

2000s: Animal Models and Neuroimaging

In the early 2000s — approximately 40 years after OA was founded — a pilot study was published in which the treatment of bulimic and obese patients with a 12-step program was reported [71]. Besides this therapeutic approach, however, the focus of this decade was the examination of neural mechanisms underlying overeating and obesity that may parallel findings from substance dependence. In humans, these neural mechanisms were primarily investigated by positron emission tomography and functional magnetic resonance imaging. For example, a groundbreaking article by Wang and colleagues [72] reported lower striatal dopamine D2 receptor availability in obese individuals as compared to controls, which the authors interpreted as a correlate of a “reward deficiency syndrome” similar to what has been found in individuals with substance dependence [73,74]. Other studies, for example, found that similar brain areas are activated during the experience of food and drug craving, and studies in which neural responses to high-calorie food stimuli were investigated found that individuals with BN and BED exhibit higher activation in reward-related brain areas as compared to controls, just like individuals with substance dependence show higher reward-related activity in response to substance-related cues [75,76].

Another important line of food addiction research in this decade was rodent models. In one of these paradigms, rats are food deprived daily for 12 hours and then given 12-hour access to both a sugar solution and chow [77]. Rats who underwent this schedule of intermittent access to sugar and chow for several weeks were found to exhibit behavioral symptoms of addiction such as withdrawal when access to sugar was removed, and they also showed neurochemical changes [77,78]. Other studies found that rats provided with a high-calorie “cafeteria” diet gained weight, which was accompanied by a downregulation of striatal dopamine D2 receptors and continued consumption of palatable foods despite aversive consequences [79]. To conclude, these studies suggest that consumption of high amounts of sugar may indeed lead to addiction-like behavior and, in combination with high fat intake, to weight gain in rodents [80] and that overlapping neural circuits are involved in the processing of food- and drug-related cues and in the control of eating behavior and substance use, respectively.

2010s: Assessment of Food Addiction in Humans and Progress in Animal Research

In recent years, researchers have tried to more precisely define and assess food addiction. For example, Cassin and von Ranson [81] substituted references to “substance” with “binge eating” in a structured interview of the substance dependence criteria in the fourth revision of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) and found that 92 percent of participants with BED met the full criteria for substance dependence. Another approach was the development of the Yale Food Addiction Scale (YFAS), which is a self-report measure for the assessment of symptoms of food addiction based on the diagnostic criteria for substance dependence in the DSM-IV [82]. Specifically, the YFAS measures the seven symptoms for substance dependence as stated in the DSM-IV with all items referring to food and eating: 1) taking the substance in larger amounts or for a longer period than intended (e.g., “I find myself continuing to consume certain foods even though I am no longer hungry.”); 2) persistent desire or repeated unsuccessful attempts to quit (e.g., “Not eating certain types of food or cutting down on certain types of food is something I worry about.”); 3) spending much time to obtain or use the substance or recover from its effects (e.g., “I find that when certain foods are not available, I will go out of my way to obtain them. For example, I will drive to the store to purchase certain foods even though I have other options available to me at home.”); 4) giving up important social, occupational, or recreational activities due to substance use (e.g., “There have been times when I consumed certain foods so often or in such large quantities that I started to eat food instead of working, spending time with my family or friends, or engaging in other important activities or recreational activities I enjoy.”); 5) continued substance use despite psychological or physical problems (e.g., “I kept consuming the same types of food or the same amount of food even though I was having emotional and/or physical problems.”); 6) tolerance (e.g., “Over time, I have found that I need to eat more and more to get the feeling I want, such as reduced negative emotions or increased pleasure.”); and 7) withdrawal symptoms (e.g., “I have had withdrawal symptoms such as agitation, anxiety, or other physical symptoms when I cut down or stopped eating certain foods.”). Two additional items assess the presence of a clinically significant impairment or distress resulting from overeating. Similar to the DSM-IV, food addiction can be “diagnosed” if at least three symptoms are met and a clinically significant impairment or distress is present [82,83].

The YFAS has been employed in a considerable number of studies in the past 6 years, which show that individuals with a food addiction “diagnosis” can be differentiated from those without a “diagnosis” on numerous variables ranging from self-report measures of eating pathology, psychopathology, emotion regulation, or impulsivity to physiological and behavioral measures such as a multilocus genetic profile associated with dopaminergic signaling or motor responses to high-calorie food-cues [62]. Although the YFAS has proved to be a useful tool for the investigation of addictive-like eating, it is, of course, not perfect and its validity has been questioned [84]. For example, it has been found that approximately 50 percent of obese adults with BED receive a YFAS diagnosis and that these individuals show higher eating-related and general psychopathology than obese adults with BED who do not receive a YFAS diagnosis [85,86]. In the light of these findings, it has been argued that food addiction as measured with the YFAS may merely represent a more severe form of BED [87,88]. Furthermore, the food addiction model continues to be a heavily debated topic with some researchers strongly supporting its validity [3,7,21,8991], while others argue against it based on different physiological effects of drugs of abuse and specific nutrients such as sugar, conceptual considerations, and other issues [84,9297]. Most recently, it has been proposed that even if there is a kind of eating behavior that may be called an addiction, the term food addiction is misguided as there is no clear addictive agent, and, thus, it should be rather considered as a behavioral addiction (i.e., “eating addiction”) [98].

Animal research on food addiction has progressed in recent years as well. This includes, for example, a plethora of studies showing differential effects of specific nutrient components (e.g., high-fat diet, high-sugar diet, combined high-fat and high-sugar diet, or high-protein diet) on eating behavior and neurochemistry [99,100]. Other research demonstrates that certain eating regimes also can affect offspring in rodents. For instance, it has been found that in utero exposure to a highly palatable diet influences food preferences, metabolic dysregulations, brain-reward functioning, and the risk for obesity [99,101]. New paradigms for the assessment of food addiction-like behavior have been employed, which measure, for example, compulsive food intake under aversive circumstances [102]. Finally, application of certain drugs, which reduces substance use in rats, has been found to reduce addiction-like intake of palatable foods [103].

Conclusions and Future Directions

The term addiction was already used in reference to food by the end of the 19th century. In the middle of the 20th century, the term food addiction was widely used, not only among laypersons but also among scientists. However, it was also poorly (if at all) defined, and the term often was used without scrutiny. Empirical articles aiming at validating the concept of food addiction in humans were lacking in most decades of the 20th century, and an addiction model of eating disorders and obesity was more critically discussed by the end of the century. Food addiction research underwent several paradigm shifts, which involved, for example, a focus on obesity in the middle of the 20th century, a focus on AN and BN in the 1980s, a focus on chocolate in the 1990s, and a focus on BED and — again — obesity in the 2000s in light of results from animal and neuroimaging studies.

Thus, although research on food addiction has increased substantially in recent years, neither is it a new idea nor was it conceptualized to explain the rising prevalence rates of obesity. The aim of this article is to increase awareness of the long history of the food addiction concept and its dynamically changing scientific paradigms and methods. If researchers reflect on this history, it may be easier to find a consensus about what is actually meant by food addiction and it may inspire important next steps that have to be taken, and, thus, progress in this field of research will be facilitated [104].

For example, many themes that revived in the last couple of years were already discussed a few decades ago. These include, for example, studies on an addictive personality underlying both overeating and substance use [105,106] or the idea of considering AN as an addiction [107,108], with both topics being present as early as the 1980s. The idea of considering BN as an addiction [109] also dates back several decades. Thus, it appears that the focus on obesity in the context of food addiction in recent years (e.g., [13,110]) seems somewhat misguided, considering that researchers stated decades ago that addiction-like eating is neither restricted to individuals with obesity nor can obesity be equated with food addiction [28,50].

Another recurring theme seems to concern the measurement of food addiction. As stated above, there were some studies in the 1990s in which food addiction was based on self-identification. This issue was taken up again in recent studies, which show that there is a large mismatch between food addiction classification based on the YFAS and self-perceived food addiction [111,112], thus implying that individuals’ own definition or experience of food addiction is not consistent with the substance use model proposed by the YFAS. Although researchers do not agree about the precise definitions of food addiction symptoms yet [84,113], it appears that standardized measures such as the YFAS are necessary to prevent over-classification of food addiction. Although the rationale behind the YFAS, namely translating substance dependence criteria of the DSM to food and eating, is straightforward, it also has been criticized as it differs from definitions that other researchers have about addiction [93,98]. Thus, an important future direction may be if and how food addiction can be measured in humans other than using the YFAS.

If food addiction research will be guided by the translation of DSM substance dependence criteria to food and eating in the future, an important question will be which implications arise from the changes in the diagnostic criteria for substance dependence in the fifth revision of the DSM for food addiction [114]. For example, are all addiction criteria (as described in the DSM-5) equally applicable to human eating behavior? If not, does this obliterate the concept of food addiction?

Besides these basic questions about the definition and measurement of food addiction, other important avenues for future research may include, but are not limited to: How relevant is the concept of food addiction for the treatment of obesity or binge eating and in public policy making? If it is relevant, how can it be implemented best [17,91]? What are the disadvantages (if any) of the concept of food addiction [115119]? How can animal models of addiction-like eating be improved to more specifically reflect relevant processes in humans [120]? Can addiction-like eating actually be reduced to the addictive effects of one or more substances or should “food addiction” be replaced by “eating addiction” [98]?

Although food addiction has been discussed in the scientific community for decades, it remains a highly controversial and heavily debated topic, which, of course, makes it an exciting field of research. Notwithstanding that scientific output on this topic rapidly increased in the last couple of years, its systematic investigation is still in its infancy, and, thus, research efforts will most likely increase in the years to come.


The author is supported by a grant of the European Research Council (ERC-StG-2014 639445 NewEat).


ANanorexia nervosa
BNbulimia nervosa
BEDbinge eating disorder
DSMDiagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
OAOvereaters Anonymous
YFASYale Food Addiction Scale


  1. Tarman V, Werdell P. Food Junkies: The truth about food addiction. Toronto, Canada: Dundurn; 2014.
  2. Avena NM, Talbott JR. Why diets fail (because you’re addicted to sugar) New York: Ten Speed Press; 2014.
  3. Gearhardt AN, Davis C, Kuschner R, Brownell KD. The addiction potential of hyperpalatable foods. Curr Drug Abuse Rev. 2011;4:140–145. [PubMed]
  4. Krashes MJ, Kravitz AV. Optogenetic and chemogenetic insights into the food addiction hypothesis. Front Behav Neurosci. 2014;8(57):1–9. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  5. Brownell KD, Gold MS. Food and addiction – a comprehensive handbook. New York: Oxford University Press; 2012. p. xxii.
  6. Cocores JA, Gold MS. The Salted Food Addiction Hypothesis may explain overeating and the obesity epidemic. Med Hypotheses. 2009;73:892–899. [PubMed]
  7. Shriner R, Gold M. Food addiction: an evolving nonlinear science. Nutrients. 2014;6:5370–5391. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  8. Shriner RL. Food addiction: detox and abstinence reinterpreted? Exp Gerontol. 2013;48:1068–1074. [PubMed]
  9. Ifland JR, Preuss HG, Marcus MT, Rourk KM, Taylor WC, Burau K. et al. Refined food addiction: a classic substance use disorder. Med Hypotheses. 2009;72:518–526. [PubMed]
  10. Thornley S, McRobbie H, Eyles H, Walker N, Simmons G. The obesity epidemic: is glycemic index the key to unlocking a hidden addiction? Med Hypotheses. 2008;71:709–714. [PubMed]
  11. Pelchat ML. Food addiction in humans. J Nutr. 2009;139:620–622. [PubMed]
  12. Corsica JA, Pelchat ML. Food addiction: true or false? Curr Opin Gastroenterol. 2010;26(2):165–169. [PubMed]
  13. Barry D, Clarke M, Petry NM. Obesity and its relationship to addictions: is overeating a form of addictive behavior? Am J Addict. 2009;18:439–451. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  14. Volkow ND, Wang GJ, Tomasi D, Baler RD. The addictive dimensionality of obesity. Biol Psychiatry. 2013;73:811–818. [PubMed]
  15. Volkow ND, Wang GJ, Tomasi D, Baler RD. Obesity and addiction: neurobiological overlaps. Obes Rev. 2013;14:2–18. [PubMed]
  16. Davis C, Carter JC. Compulsive overeating as an addiction disorder. A review of theory and evidence. Appetite. 2009;53:1–8. [PubMed]
  17. Davis C, Carter JC. If certain foods are addictive, how might this change the treatment of compulsive overeating and obesity? Curr Addict Rep. 2014;1:89–95.
  18. Lee NM, Carter A, Owen N, Hall WD. The neurobiology of overeating. Embo Rep. 2012;13:785–790. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  19. Gearhardt AN, Bragg MA, Pearl RL, Schvey NA, Roberto CA, Brownell KD. Obesity and public policy. Annu Rev Clin Psychol. 2012;8:405–430. [PubMed]
  20. Gearhardt AN, Corbin WR, Brownell KD. Food addiction – an examination of the diagnostic criteria for dependence. J Addict Med. 2009;3:1–7. [PubMed]
  21. Gearhardt AN, Grilo CM, Corbin WR, DiLeone RJ, Brownell KD, Potenza MN. Can food be addictive? Public health and policy implications. Addiction. 2011;106:1208–1212. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  22. Weiner B, White W. The Journal of Inebriety (1876-1914): history, topical analysis, and photographic images. Addiction. 2007;102:15–23. [PubMed]
  23. Clouston TS. Diseased cravings and paralyzed control: dipsomania; morphinomania; chloralism; cocainism. J Inebr. 1890;12:203–245.
  24. Wulff M. Über einen interessanten oralen Symptomenkomplex und seine Beziehungen zur Sucht. Int Z Psychoanal. 1932;18:281–302.
  25. Thorner HA. On compulsive eating. J Psychsom Res. 1970;14:321–325. [PubMed]
  26. Randolph TG. The descriptive features of food addiction: Addictive eating and drinking. Q J Stud Alcohol. 1956;17:198–224. [PubMed]
  27. Schulte EM, Avena NM, Gearhardt AN. Which foods may be addictive? The roles of processing, fat content, and glycemic load. PLoS ONE. 2015;10(2):e0117959. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  28. Hinkle LE, Knowles HC, Fischer A, Stunkard AJ. Role of environment and personality in management of the difficult patient with diabetes mellitus – panel discussion. Diabetes. 1959;8:371–378. [PubMed]
  29. Allison KC, Berkowitz RI, Brownell KD, Foster GD, Wadden TA. Albert J. (“Mickey”) Stunkard, M.D. Obesity. 2014;22:1937–1938. [PubMed]
  30. Stunkard AJ. Eating patterns and obesity. Psychiatr Q. 1959;33:284–295. [PubMed]
  31. Russel-Mayhew S, von Ranson KM, Masson PC. How does Overeaters Anonymous help its members? A qualitative analysis. Eur Eat Disord Rev. 2010;18:33–42. [PubMed]
  32. Weiner S. The addiction of overeating: self-help groups as treatment models. J Clin Psychol. 1998;54:163–167. [PubMed]
  33. Bell RG. A method of clinical orientation to alcohol addiction. Can Med Assoc J. 1960;83:1346–1352. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  34. Bell RG. Defensive thinking in alcohol addicts. Can Med Assoc J. 1965;92:228–231. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  35. Clemis JD, Shambaugh GE Jr., Derlacki EL. Withdrawal reactions in chronic food addiction as related to chronic secretory otitis media. Ann Otol Rhinol Laryngol. 1966;75:793–797. [PubMed]
  36. Swanson DW, Dinello FA. Follow-up of patients starved for obesity. Psychosom Med. 1970;32:209–214. [PubMed]
  37. Scott DW. Alcohol and food abuse: some comparisons. Br J Addict. 1983;78:339–349. [PubMed]
  38. Szmukler GI, Tantam D. Anorexia nervosa: Starvation dependence. Br J Med Psychol. 1984;57:303–310. [PubMed]
  39. Marrazzi MA, Luby ED. An auto-addiction opioid model of chronic anorexia nervosa. lnt J Eat Disord. 1986;5:191–208.
  40. Marrazzi MA, Mullingsbritton J, Stack L, Powers RJ, Lawhorn J, Graham V. et al. Atypical endogenous opioid systems in mice in relation to an auto-addiction opioid model of anorexia nervosa. Life Sci. 1990;47:1427–1435. [PubMed]
  41. Gold MS, Sternbach HA. Endorphins in obesity and in the regulation of appetite and weight. Integr Psychiatry. 1984;2:203–207.
  42. Wise J. Endorphins and metabolic control in the obese: a mechanism for food addiction. J Obes Weight Reg. 1981;1:165–181.
  43. Raynes E, Auerbach C, Botyanski NC. Level of object representation and psychic structure deficit in obese persons. Psychol Rep. 1989;64:291–294. [PubMed]
  44. Leon GR, Eckert ED, Teed D, Buchwald H. Changes in body image and other psychological factors after intestinal bypass surgery for massive obesity. J Behav Med. 1979;2:39–55. [PubMed]
  45. Leon GR, Kolotkin R, Korgeski G. MacAndrew Addiction Scale and other MMPI characteristics associated with obesity, anorexia and smoking behavior. Addict Behav. 1979;4:401–407. [PubMed]
  46. Feldman J, Eysenck S. Addictive personality traits in bulimic patients. Pers Indiv Diff. 1986;7:923–926.
  47. de Silva P, Eysenck S. Personality and addictiveness in anorexic and bulimic patients. Pers Indiv Diff. 1987;8:749–751.
  48. Hatsukami D, Owen P, Pyle R, Mitchell J. Similarities and differences on the MMPI between women with bulimia and women with alcohol or drug abuse problems. Addict Behav. 1982;7:435–439. [PubMed]
  49. Kagan DM, Albertson LM. Scores on MacAndrew Factors – Bulimics and other addictive populations. Int J Eat Disord. 1986;5:1095–1101.
  50. Slive A, Young F. Bulimia as substance abuse: a metaphor for strategic treatment. J Strategic Syst Ther. 1986;5:71–84.
  51. Stoltz SG. Recovering from foodaholism. J Special Group Work. 1984;9:51–61.
  52. Vandereycken W. The addiction model in eating disorders: some critical remarks and a selected bibliography. Int J Eat Disord. 1990;9:95–101.
  53. Wilson GT. The addiction model of eating disorders: a critical analysis. Adv Behav Res Ther. 1991;13:27–72.
  54. Wilson GT. Eating disorders and addiction. Drugs Soc. 1999;15:87–101.
  55. Rogers PJ, Smit HJ. Food craving and food “addiction”: a critical review of the evidence from a biopsychosocial perspective. Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2000;66:3–14. [PubMed]
  56. Kayloe JC. Food addiction. Psychotherapy. 1993;30:269–275.
  57. Davis C, Claridge G. The eating disorders as addiction: A psychobiological perspective. Addict Behav. 1998;23:463–475. [PubMed]
  58. Černý L, Černý K. Can carrots be addictive? An extraordinary form of drug dependence. Br J Addict. 1992;87:1195–1197. [PubMed]
  59. Kaplan R. Carrot addiction. Aust N Z J Psychiatry. 1996;30:698–700. [PubMed]
  60. Weingarten HP, Elston D. Food cravings in a college population. Appetite. 1991;17:167–175. [PubMed]
  61. Rozin P, Levine E, Stoess C. Chocolate craving and liking. Appetite. 1991;17:199–212. [PubMed]
  62. Meule A, Gearhardt AN. Five years of the Yale Food Addiction Scale: taking stock and moving forward. Curr Addict Rep. 2014;1:193–205.
  63. Max B. This and that: chocolate addiction, the dual pharmacogenetics of asparagus eaters, and the arithmetic of freedom. Trends Pharmacol Sci. 1989;10:390–393. [PubMed]
  64. Bruinsma K, Taren DL. Chocolate: food or drug? J Am Diet Assoc. 1999;99:1249–1256. [PubMed]
  65. Patterson R. Recovery from this addiction was sweet indeed. Can Med Assoc J. 1993;148:1028–1032. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  66. Hetherington MM, Macdiarmid JI. “Chocolate addiction”: a preliminary study of its description and its relationship to problem eating. Appetite. 1993;21:233–246. [PubMed]
  67. Macdiarmid JI, Hetherington MM. Mood modulation by food: an exploration of affect and cravings in ‘chocolate addicts’ Br J Clin Psychol. 1995;34:129–138. [PubMed]
  68. Tuomisto T, Hetherington MM, Morris MF, Tuomisto MT, Turjanmaa V, Lappalainen R. Psychological and physiological characteristics of sweet food “addiction” Int J Eat Disord. 1999;25:169–175. [PubMed]
  69. Rozin P, Stoess C. Is there a general tendency to become addicted? Addict Behav. 1993;18:81–87. [PubMed]
  70. Greenberg JL, Lewis SE, Dodd DK. Overlapping addictions and self-esteem among college men and women. Addict Behav. 1999;24:565–571. [PubMed]
  71. Trotzky AS. The treatment of eating disorders as addiction among adolescent females. Int J Adolesc Med Health. 2002;14:269–274. [PubMed]
  72. Wang GJ, Volkow ND, Logan J, Pappas NR, Wong CT, Zhu W. et al. Brain dopamine and obesity. Lancet. 2001;357:354–357. [PubMed]
  73. Volkow ND, Wang GJ, Fowler JS, Telang F. Overlapping neuronal circuits in addiction and obesity: evidence of systems pathology. Philos Trans R Soc B. 2008;363:3191–3200. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  74. Volkow ND, Wise RA. How can drug addiction help us understand obesity? Nat Neurosci. 2005;8:555–560. [PubMed]
  75. Schienle A, Schäfer A, Hermann A, Vaitl D. Binge-eating disorder: reward sensitivity and brain activation to images of food. Biol Psychiatry. 2009;65:654–661. [PubMed]
  76. Pelchat ML, Johnson A, Chan R, Valdez J, Ragland JD. Images of desire: food-craving activation during fMRI. Neuroimage. 2004;23:1486–1493. [PubMed]
  77. Avena NM, Rada P, Hoebel BG. Evidence for sugar addiction: behavioral and neurochemical effects of intermittent, excessive sugar intake. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2008;32:20–39. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  78. Avena NM. Examining the addictive-like properties of binge eating using an animal model of sugar dependence. Exp Clin Psychopharmacol. 2007;15:481–491. [PubMed]
  79. Johnson PM, Kenny PJ. Dopamine D2 receptors in addiction-like reward dysfunction and compulsive eating in obese rats. Nat Neurosci. 2010;13:635–641. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  80. Avena NM, Rada P, Hoebel BG. Sugar and fat bingeing have notable differences in addictive-like behavior. J Nutr. 2009;139:623–628. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  81. Cassin SE, von Ranson KM. Is binge eating experienced as an addiction? Appetite. 2007;49:687–690. [PubMed]
  82. Gearhardt AN, Corbin WR, Brownell KD. Preliminary validation of the Yale Food Addiction Scale. Appetite. 2009;52:430–436. [PubMed]
  83. American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders. 4th ed. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association; 1994.
  84. Ziauddeen H, Farooqi IS, Fletcher PC. Obesity and the brain: how convincing is the addiction model? Nat Rev Neurosci. 2012;13:279–286. [PubMed]
  85. Gearhardt AN, White MA, Masheb RM, Grilo CM. An examination of food addiction in a racially diverse sample of obese patients with binge eating disorder in primary care settings. Compr Psychiatry. 2013;54:500–505. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  86. Gearhardt AN, White MA, Masheb RM, Morgan PT, Crosby RD, Grilo CM. An examination of the food addiction construct in obese patients with binge eating disorder. Int J Eat Disord. 2012;45:657–663. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  87. Davis C. Compulsive overeating as an addictive behavior: overlap between food addiction and Binge Eating Disorder. Curr Obes Rep. 2013;2:171–178.
  88. Davis C. From passive overeating to “food addiction”: A spectrum of compulsion and severity. ISRN Obesity. 2013;2013(435027):1–20. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  89. Avena NM, Gearhardt AN, Gold MS, Wang GJ, Potenza MN. Tossing the baby out with the bathwater after a brief rinse? The potential downside of dismissing food addiction based on limited data. Nat Rev Neurosci. 2012;13:514. [PubMed]
  90. Avena NM, Gold MS. Food and addiction – sugars, fats and hedonic overeating. Addiction. 2011;106:1214–1215. [PubMed]
  91. Gearhardt AN, Brownell KD. Can food and addiction change the game? Biol Psychiatry. 2013;73:802–803. [PubMed]
  92. Ziauddeen H, Farooqi IS, Fletcher PC. Food addiction: is there a baby in the bathwater? Nat Rev Neurosci. 2012;13:514.
  93. Ziauddeen H, Fletcher PC. Is food addiction a valid and useful concept? Obes Rev. 2013;14:19–28. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  94. Benton D. The plausibility of sugar addiction and its role in obesity and eating disorders. Clin Nutr. 2010;29:288–303. [PubMed]
  95. Wilson GT. Eating disorders, obesity and addiction. Eur Eat Disord Rev. 2010;18:341–351. [PubMed]
  96. Rogers PJ. Obesity – is food addiction to blame? Addiction. 2011;106:1213–1214. [PubMed]
  97. Blundell JE, Finlayson G. Food addiction not helpful: the hedonic component – implicit wanting – is important. Addiction. 2011;106:1216–1218. [PubMed]
  98. Hebebrand J, Albayrak O, Adan R, Antel J, Dieguez C, de Jong J. et al. “Eating addiction”, rather than “food addiction”, better captures addictive-like eating behavior. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2014;47:295–306. [PubMed]
  99. Avena NM, Gold JA, Kroll C, Gold MS. Further developments in the neurobiology of food and addiction: update on the state of the science. Nutrition. 2012;28:341–343. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  100. Tulloch AJ, Murray S, Vaicekonyte R, Avena NM. Neural responses to macronutrients: hedonic and homeostatic mechanisms. Gastroenterology. 2015;148:1205–1218. [PubMed]
  101. Borengasser SJ, Kang P, Faske J, Gomez-Acevedo H, Blackburn ML, Badger TM. et al. High fat diet and in utero exposure to maternal obesity disrupts circadian rhythm and leads to metabolic programming of liver in rat offspring. PLoS ONE. 2014;9(1):e84209. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  102. Velázquez-Sánchez C, Ferragud A, Moore CF, Everitt BJ, Sabino V, Cottone P. High trait impulsivity predicts food addiction-like behavior in the rat. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2014;39:2463–2472. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  103. Bocarsly ME, Hoebel BG, Paredes D, von Loga I, Murray SM, Wang M. et al. GS 455534 selectively suppresses binge eating of palatable food and attenuates dopamine release in the accumbens of sugar-bingeing rats. Behav Pharmacol. 2014;25:147–157. [PubMed]
  104. Schulte EM, Joyner MA, Potenza MN, Grilo CM, Gearhardt A. Current considerations regarding food addiction. Curr Psychiat Rep. 2015;17(19):1–8. [PubMed]
  105. Lent MR, Swencionis C. Addictive personality and maladaptive eating behaviors in adults seeking bariatric surgery. Eat Behav. 2012;13:67–70. [PubMed]
  106. Davis C. A narrative review of binge eating and addictive behaviors: shared associations with seasonality and personality factors. Front Psychiatry. 2013;4(183):1–9. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  107. Barbarich-Marsteller NC, Foltin RW, Walsh BT. Does anorexia nervosa resemble an addiction? Curr Drug Abuse Rev. 2011;4:197–200. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  108. Speranza M, Revah-Levy A, Giquel L, Loas G, Venisse JL, Jeammet P. et al. An investigation of Goodman’s addictive disorder criteria in eating disorders. Eur Eat Disord Rev. 2012;20:182–189. [PubMed]
  109. Umberg EN, Shader RI, Hsu LK, Greenblatt DJ. From disordered eating to addiction: the “food drug” in bulimia nervosa. J Clin Psychopharmacol. 2012;32:376–389. [PubMed]
  110. Grosshans M, Loeber S, Kiefer F. Implications from addiction research towards the understanding and treatment of obesity. Addict Biol. 2011;16:189–198. [PubMed]
  111. Hardman CA, Rogers PJ, Dallas R, Scott J, Ruddock HK, Robinson E. “Food addiction is real”. The effects of exposure to this message on self-diagnosed food addiction and eating behaviour. Appetite. 2015;91:179–184. [PubMed]
  112. Meadows A, Higgs S. I think, therefore I am? Characteristics of a non-clinical population of self-perceived food addicts. Appetite. 2013;71:482.
  113. Meule A, Kübler A. The translation of substance dependence criteria to food-related behaviors: different views and interpretations. Front Psychiatry. 2012;3(64):1–2. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  114. Meule A, Gearhardt AN. Food addiction in the light of DSM-5. Nutrients. 2014;6:3653–3671. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  115. DePierre JA, Puhl RM, Luedicke J. A new stigmatized identity? Comparisons of a “food addict” label with other stigmatized health conditions. Basic Appl Soc Psych. 2013;35:10–21.
  116. DePierre JA, Puhl RM, Luedicke J. Public perceptions of food addiction: a comparison with alcohol and tobacco. J Subst Use. 2014;19:1–6.
  117. Latner JD, Puhl RM, Murakami JM, O’Brien KS. Food addiction as a causal model of obesity. Effects on stigma, blame, and perceived psychopathology. Appetite. 2014;77:77–82. [PubMed]
  118. Lee NM, Hall WD, Lucke J, Forlini C, Carter A. Food addiction and its impact on weight-based stigma and the treatment of obese individuals in the U.S. and Australia. Nutrients. 2014;6:5312–5326. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  119. Lee NM, Lucke J, Hall WD, Meurk C, Boyle FM, Carter A. Public views on food addiction and obesity: implications for policy and treatment. PLoS ONE. 2013;8(9):e74836. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  120. Avena NM. The study of food addiction using animal models of binge eating. Appetite. 2010;55:734–737. [PMC free article] [PubMed]