Nutritional Aspects of Food Addiction


Purpose of Review

Behavioural and neurobiological similarities have been identified between the consumption of certain foods and addiction-related disorders. However, few studies have investigated what components of food may promote an addictive-like response in humans. This review evaluates recent research concerning the nutritional aspects of addictive-like eating.

Recent Findings

Based on the current evidence base, highly processed, hyper-palatable foods with combinations of fat and sugar appear most likely to facilitate an addictive-like response. Total fat content and glycaemic index also appear to be important factors in the addictive potential of foods. Despite public interest and evidence from animal studies, few studies have reported an association between sugar and addictive-like eating.


Due to the paucity of studies, it is difficult to conclusively identify a specific food or ingredient as capable of triggering an addictive-like response in humans. Future studies using validated dietary assessment tools are essential and may inform the development of novel strategies to treat maladaptive eating behaviours.

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Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Correspondence to Kirrilly M. Pursey.

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Dr. Kirrilly M. Pursey, Professor Caroline Davis and Associate Professor Tracy L. Burrows declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

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This article is part of the Topical Collection on Food Addiction

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Pursey, K.M., Davis, C. & Burrows, T.L. Nutritional Aspects of Food Addiction. Curr Addict Rep 4, 142–150 (2017).

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  • Food addiction
  • Nutrition
  • Diet
  • Eating behaviour
  • Substance-related disorder
  • Behavioural addiction