Eating disorders (ED) seem to share many characteristics with substance-related disorders (SRD). As very often the two conditions run together, it has been proposed that eating dysfunctions could be understood as behavioral forms of addiction. This has lead to the concept of “food addiction,” a proposed new form of addiction. This chapter reviews recent research focusing on the relationship between ED and SRD. Three specific areas are addressed: (a) animal models that suggest the association between substance dependence and compulsive overeating; (b) epidemiological studies that confirm the comorbidity between ED and SRD; and (c) neuroimaging studies that reveal the existence of modifications in the reward circuits following binge eating and other eating dysfunctions. The data from the different studies can be integrated into a model based on the consideration of “food addiction” as a specific form of behavioral addiction that could be applied at least to a group of patients suffering from eating disorders.
Part of the book: Eating Disorders