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Consensus opinion on food addiction

21 / 02 / 14

Researchers of NeuroFAST met in Utrecht in February 2013 to discuss addiction in the context of food intake and to develop a common consensus on this important issue. The group developed the following consensus statements in regards to food addiction:

  • Current evidence does not allow us to conclude that a single food substance via a single specific neurobiological mechanism (e.g. specific brain receptors or specific neuronal pathways) can account for the fact that people overeat and develop obesity. 
  • In humans, there is no evidence that a specific food, food ingredient or food additive causes a substance based type of addiction (the only currently known exception is caffeine which via specific mechanisms can potentially be addictive). Within this context we specifically point out that we do not consider alcoholic beverages as food, despite the fact that one gram of ethanol has an energy density of 7 kcal. 
  • Addictive (over) eating is clearly distinct from substance use disorders that cause addiction via specific mechanisms (e.g. nicotine, cocaine, cannabinoids, opioids, etc). 
  • An addiction-like eating behavior may, in rare instances, be caused by mutations in single genes which entail an elevated feeling of hunger and reduced satiety.

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