Eating disorders, obesity and addiction

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

111 Scopus citations


An addiction model of both eating disorders and obesity has received increasing attention in the popular and scientific literature. The addiction is viewed as a brain disease that must be directly targeted if treatment is to succeed. Evidence from laboratory feeding studies, epidemiology, genetic and familial research, psychopathological mechanisms, and treatment outcome research on cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) is inconsistent with the clinical validity or utility of the addiction model of eating disorders. Neurobiological research has shown commonalities in brain reward processes between obesity and substance abuse disorders. Yet emphasis on apparent similarities overlooks important differences between obesity and drug addiction. Interest in obesity as a brain disease should not detract from a public health focus on the 'toxic food environment' that is arguably responsible for the obesity epidemic and related nutrition-based chronic disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)341-351
Number of pages11
JournalEuropean Eating Disorders Review
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


  • Addiction
  • Cognitive behaviour therapy
  • Dopamine
  • Eating disorders
  • Obesity

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