"While it is attractive to use the addiction framework to 'jump start' and guide our understanding of how neural circuits of reward and self-control might contribute to understanding overeating and the obesity epidemic, the price of adopting an inappropriate framework would be high," note Small and DiLeone. "For example, an inappropriate adaptation might steer research towards evaluating variables that have been shown to be critical for addiction at the expense of those that are unique to obesity and perhaps key to understanding overeating."
Papers in this issue cover the common and divergent neurobiological mechanisms and characteristics of food and substances of abuse. One provides rationale for adopting the food addiction model, arguing that food addiction exists and that although food is less powerful than addictive drugs, this does not diminish the compulsive nature or lack of control associated with binge eating. In contrast, another paper argues that the concept of food addiction is problematic and its links to drug addiction are overstated.
These juxtaposed papers are followed by reviews outlining the differences and similarities in brain reward circuitry, covering obesity, addiction, impulsivity, and self-control. The role that dopamine, a neurotransmitter critically involved in pleasure and reward, plays in food is also summarized.
Others cover the theme of neural adaptations, where new papers detail research findings on the changes observed in the brain following reward-driven feeding, reward and habit responding, and the effects of a high-fat diet. Another series of papers examine risk factors and susceptibility, including stress levels and how weight is related to an individual's degree of reward responding.
Binge eating disorder, the newest diagnosis within the eati
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