The food addiction construct posits that vulnerable individuals may experience an addictive-like response to certain foods, such as those high in fat and refined carbohydrates. Recently, an alternative model to food addiction was proposed, suggesting that the act of eating may be a behavioral addiction that can trigger an addictive-like response in susceptible individuals. One major rationale for the eating addiction framework is that the assessment of food addiction is based on behavioral indicators, such as consuming greater quantities of food than intended and eating certain foods despite negative consequences. It is also suggested that the lack of investigation into which foods and food attributes (e.g., sugar) may have an addictive potential is evidence that food addiction does not parallel a substance-based addiction and more closely resembles a behavioral addiction. The present paper provides a commentary suggesting that the substance-based, food-addiction framework is more appropriate than the behavioral-addiction, eating-addiction perspective to conceptualize addictive-like food consumption. In order to illustrate this point, this manuscript will discuss behavioral components characteristic of all substance-use disorders, preliminary evidence to suggest that all foods are not equally associated with addictive-like eating, and key differences between the hypothesized eating addiction phenotype and the only existing behavioral addiction in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), gambling disorder. Further, this paper will consider implications of applying an addiction label to food versus eating and suggest future research directions to evaluate whether food addiction is a valid and clinically useful construct.
A commentary on the “eating addiction” versus “food addiction” perspectives on addictive-like food consumption
Schulte, E. M., Potenza, M. N., & Gearhardt, A. N.
Food addiction, Eating behavior, Addictive disorders
Schulte, E. M., Potenza, M. N., & Gearhardt, A. N. (2017). A commentary on the “eating addiction” versus “food addiction” perspectives on addictive-like food consumption. Appetite, 115, 9–15. doi:10.1016/j.appet.2016.10.033