Octavian Vasiliu, Daniel Vasile



Food Addiction - A Disorder in Search of Diagnostic Criteria

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food addiction, obesity, binge eating disorder, bulimia nervosa, eating disorders, reward dysfunction, dopamine, serotonin, emotion dysregulation


Food addiction is a new nosological entity which is not yet well defined by researchers, as it has a high degree of similarity with other eating disorders, both on clinical and pathophysiological level. Some authors dispute the existence of this addiction, while others consider that “eating addiction” is a more appropriate term, as the focus of the dependence is eating, which is a behavior, and not the food itself. A single scale was validated for the quantification of the food disorder’s severity, the Yale Food Addiction Severity Scale (YFAS), constructed for DSM IV, and it has also a newer version, 2.0, for DSM-5. A high prevalence was determined using this scale, up to 19.9% in the general population, according to a meta-analysis. Identified risk factors for food addiction were being over 35 years, female, overweight/obese, and subjects from clinical samples. Bulimia nervosa and depression were frequently associated with food addiction diagnosis. A particular case of food addiction is “sugar addiction”, also a disputed nosological entity. Reward dysfunction, impulsivity and emotion dysregulation have been considered basic pathophysiologic mechanisms of food addiction. Genetic studies associated greater carbohydrate and fast food craving with DRD2 A1 allele, but this finding is not well replicated. Due to the lack of operationalized criteria for diagnosis, no clinical trial focused on food addiction treatment have been identified. Lorcaserin, antiepileptic drugs, opioid antagonists, acamprosate, memantine, and sodium oxybate are recommended drugs for eating disorders and could be used in food disorder, also. A better understanding of food addiction’s clinical profile could be helpful in treating and preventing obesity and other eating disorders.

Cite this paper

Octavian Vasiliu, Daniel Vasile. (2017) Food Addiction - A Disorder in Search of Diagnostic Criteria. International Journal of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, 2, 30-33