Animal Models of Sugar and Fat Bingeing: Relationship to Food Addiction and Increased Body Weight

  • Nicole M. Avena
  • Miriam E. Bocarsly
  • Bartley G. Hoebel
Part of the Methods in Molecular Biology book series (MIMB, volume 829)


Binge eating is a behavior that occurs in some eating disorders, as well as in obesity and in nonclinical populations. Both sugars and fats are readily consumed by human beings and are common components of binges. This chapter describes animal models of sugar and fat bingeing, which allow for a detailed analysis of these behaviors and their concomitant physiological effects. The model of sugar bingeing has been used successfully to elicit behavioral and neurochemical signs of dependence in rats; e.g., indices of opiate-like withdrawal, increased intake after abstinence, cross-sensitization with drugs of abuse, and the repeated release of dopamine in the nucleus accumbens following repeated bingeing. Studies using the model of fat bingeing suggest that it can produce some, but not all, of the signs of dependence that are seen with sugar binge eating, as well as increase body weight, potentially leading to obesity.

Key words

Binge eating Dopamine Fat Food addiction Nucleus accumbens Sugar Body weight 



Supported by USPHS grants MH-65024 (to B.G.H. et al.), DA-10608 (to B.G.H.), DA-031230 (to N.M.A), AA-019623 (fellowship to M.E.B), and the National Eating Disorders Association (to N.M.A).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nicole M. Avena
    • 1
    • 2
  • Miriam E. Bocarsly
    • 2
  • Bartley G. Hoebel
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry, McKnight Brain InstituteUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA
  2. 2.Department of Psychology, Princeton Neuroscience InstitutePrinceton UniversityPrincetonUSA

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