Psychiatr Hung. 2016;31(3):248-255.
[Article in Hungarian]
Aim of review: To overview the new studies on food addiction and highlighting the analogies and differences between food and drug addiction.
Recent studies on food addiction have demonstrated that the neurobiological circuits involved in the development of drug addiction also play a role in food consumption, and that the uptake of nutrients by the organism is under the control of numerous complicated peripheral and central signal-transducing networks. In addition, it has also been shown that addiction and/or craving may develop toward certain foods and nutrients, too. The most recent investigations about the neurobiological systems motivating the obtaining behavior have suggested that the acquired drive toward energy rich, rewarding food contributes to the appearance of obesity as an endemic.
This report presents the definition of substance use disorders and describes the results of the neurobiological approaches in the study of addiction supporting the concept that food addiction is a real phenomenon. The subsequent description of the central and peripheral signaling pathways of food consumption demonstrates that while both food (nutrients) and drugs with abuse potential exert their effect on the same central neurobiological networks, the action of the peripheral signaling systems make it more difficult to understand the regulation of food intake and thus the treatment of pathological eating behavior. The presentation of the evidences of food addiction obtained in animal experiments and with imaging methods and the subsequent overview of the results achieved in the surveys of pathologic eating patterns and in the new clinical and behavioral assessment of human food addiction point to the conclusion that the pharmacological and behavioral therapy methods applied to the treatment of substance abuse disorders may also prove useful in the management of obesity.