Food addiction report

The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse is a nonprofit research and policy organization focused on improving the understanding, prevention and treatment of substance use and addiction. Few weeks ago they published an interesting report , "Understanding and addressing food addiction: a science-based approach to policy, practice and research".

On their website they explain the content of this document:

"Individuals suffering from a leading public health problem – overweight and obesity – have faced problems similar to those who suffer from substance addiction, including stigma, shame and tremendous difficulty overcoming a significant threat to their health and well-being. For years, eating disorders and obesity were examined primarily through the lens of individual vulnerability, with prevention and interventions focused on changing how the individual interacts with his or her family and food environment. Lessons learned from substance addiction, specifically the power of certain addictive substances to directly affect an individual’s brain and behavior, have helped launch a new and potentially fruitful paradigm for understanding and addressing certain cases of obesity and eating disorders. The food addiction model, like that of substance addiction, describes the ways in which certain food properties or ingredients can produce addiction in individuals who are susceptible to their effects and who consume them in a manner that induces the addictive process (i.e., eating certain types of highly palatable, calorie-dense, and nutrient-poor food on an intermittent but repeated basis). It allows for an explanation and an intervention strategy for those cases of disordered eating that are not adequately accounted for by existing psychological or medical causes. 

Key highlights of the paper include:

  • Evidence regarding the prevalence of food addiction and its co-occurrence with obesity, binge eating disorder and other health conditions.
  • The risk factors, characterizing symptoms and biological mechanisms of food addiction and related disorders and how these overlap with other eating disorders and with substance addiction.
  • Recommendations for policy, prevention, health care practice and research, and resources for additional information.

As is true of substance addiction, the best approach to addressing the compulsive eating of certain foods that are associated with an increased risk of food addiction and, in some cases, obesity, is a comprehensive one that targets all the domains of influence on an individual’s addictive behavior, including biological and personal influences, as well as social and environmental influences."

You can download the full report clicking on this link.

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