Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2015 Apr;17(4):563. doi: 10.1007/s11920-015-0563-3.
“Food addiction” is an emerging area, and behavioral and biological overlaps have been observed between eating and addictive disorders. Potential misconceptions about applying an addiction framework to problematic eating behavior may inhibit scientific progress.
Critiques of “food addiction” that focus on descriptive differences between overeating and illicit drugs are similar to early criticisms of the addictiveness of tobacco. Although food is necessary for survival, the highly processed foods associated with addictive-like eating may provide little health benefit. Individual differences are important in determining who develops an addiction. If certain foods are addictive, the identification of possible risk factors for “food addiction” is an important next step.
Not all treatments for addiction require abstinence. Addiction interventions that focus on moderation or controlled use may lead to novel approaches to treating eating-related problems. Finally, addiction-related policies that focus on environmental (instead of educational) targets may have a larger public health impact in reducing overeating.