Current Behavioral Neuroscience Reports

, Volume 5, Issue 4, pp 281–294 | Cite as

The Concept of Food Addiction: a Review of the Current Evidence

  • Katherine R. NaishEmail author
  • James MacKillop
  • Iris M. Balodis
Addictions (M Potenza and M Brand, Section Editors)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Addictions


Purpose of Review

With the literature on food addiction expanding rapidly, we aim to provide an overview of what is known about this topic, including its assessment, prevalence, and associated behavioral, clinical, and neurobiological characteristics.

Recent Findings

The literature presents compelling evidence for the validity of the concept of food addiction, revealing numerous substantive parallels between compulsive overeating and substance use disorders. Research published since the introduction of a formal measure of food addiction has examined neurobiological characteristics associated with food addiction, providing evidence of similarities between neural responses in individuals with food addiction and those with substance use disorders. Furthermore, food addiction has been associated with heightened depression, anxiety, and eating psychopathology. There is also evidence of poorer treatment outcomes in clinical populations, highlighting the importance of continued investigation of this condition.


The extent to which food addiction is equivalent to substance use disorders remains an open question; however, it is clear that the presence of food addiction has implications for physical and psychological health outcomes. A focus for future research should be identifying specific symptoms of food addiction that contribute to these poor outcomes and greater psychopathology, to inform the development of therapeutic interventions for food addiction.


Food addiction Drug Binge eating Neurobiology YFAS Obesity 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

KN and IB have no potential conflicts of interest to disclose; JM is a principal in BEAM Diagnostics, Inc.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal studies performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Katherine R. Naish
    • 1
    Email author
  • James MacKillop
    • 1
  • Iris M. Balodis
    • 1
  1. 1.Peter Boris Centre for Addictions Research, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural NeurosciencesMcMaster University and St. Joseph’s Healthcare HamiltonHamiltonCanada

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