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Bariatric Surgery as a Treatment for Food Addiction? A Review of the Literature

Abstract

Purpose of Review

The purpose of this literature review is to explore a potentially controversial hypothesis– that bariatric surgery could be used as a “treatment” for food addiction.

Recent Findings

Two small studies have examined food addiction pre- and post-bariatric surgery and suggest that the prevalence of symptoms is reduced within the first-year post-operatively. Many physiological, metabolic, and neurobiological changes occur following bariatric surgery. Theoretically, these changes that modify the factors associated with obesity and eating behaviors related to obesity could also impact food addiction symptoms.

Summary

Future research includes need for examination of whether bariatric surgery improves or worsens food addiction symptoms, especially over the long term. Although the title of this review is bold, in practice, it would behoove providers to carefully evaluate patients pre- and post-operatively to determine best treatment approaches for those with food addiction and severe obesity.

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Correspondence to Afton M. Koball.

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Koball, A.M., Ames, G., Goetze, R.E. et al. Bariatric Surgery as a Treatment for Food Addiction? A Review of the Literature. Curr Addict Rep (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40429-020-00297-w

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Keywords

  • Food addiction
  • Treatment for food addiction
  • Problematic eating behaviors
  • Bariatric surgery