Research Topic

Neurobiology of Food Addiction

About this Research Topic

Food addiction is an intriguing issue that has been studied in recent years. The debate on the status of food addiction as a condition is not settled in the scientific community. It is not a recognized disease in specialized references such as the 5th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (the DSM-5). Whereas the DSM-5 lists drug addiction as a disorder, describing symptoms related to use and withdrawal, the addictive properties of palatable foods and the recognition of food-related disorders as an addictive behavior are quite recent and controversial. Different tools have been developed to assess food addiction, such as the “Yale Food Addiction Scale (YFAS)”, and the issue has gained more visibility in the last decade. However, the mechanisms involved in this addictive behavior are not yet well established.

The “food addiction” term originates from the similarities between its symptoms and those related to drug addiction. Individuals with some level of binge eating show similar behavior to those with a type of drug addiction. The hypothesis that food can lead to similar behaviors to those observed in drug abuse stems from the fact that exposure to certain highly palatable foods can alter brain circuits involved with the reward system, stimulating a behavioral phenotype of binge eating which resembles addiction. Although many studies recognize eating disorders as an addictive-like behavior, part of the literature postulates it is not possible to classify feeding behaviors as addictions, because food is a naturally important substance for human survival. However, advances in the food industry in recent decades have allowed the development of foods with greater palatability to stimulate consumption. These highly processed foods have in their composition a set of components capable of stimulating the reward system much more intensely than natural foods. We aim to support a deeper understanding of the neuronal pathways implicated in this eating disorder to provide more effective therapies against food addiction and related addictive disorders.

The focus of this Research Topic is to explore and cover scientific and clinical aspects related to the neurobiology of food addiction and to discuss whether this issue should be treated as a kind of addiction. It is also interesting to discuss the risk factors involved in drug addiction, such as stress, with addictive-like eating behavior. Another important issue is the possibility to obtain a reward system cross-sensitization between drug and food addiction. The gap in the literature about this issue is an opportunity to research and to try to find solutions for this problem. We welcome submissions of original research, reviews, and mini-review articles.


Keywords: Food Addiction, Addictive Behaviors, Eating Disorders, Reward System, Non-substance Addiction


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

Food addiction is an intriguing issue that has been studied in recent years. The debate on the status of food addiction as a condition is not settled in the scientific community. It is not a recognized disease in specialized references such as the 5th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (the DSM-5). Whereas the DSM-5 lists drug addiction as a disorder, describing symptoms related to use and withdrawal, the addictive properties of palatable foods and the recognition of food-related disorders as an addictive behavior are quite recent and controversial. Different tools have been developed to assess food addiction, such as the “Yale Food Addiction Scale (YFAS)”, and the issue has gained more visibility in the last decade. However, the mechanisms involved in this addictive behavior are not yet well established.

The “food addiction” term originates from the similarities between its symptoms and those related to drug addiction. Individuals with some level of binge eating show similar behavior to those with a type of drug addiction. The hypothesis that food can lead to similar behaviors to those observed in drug abuse stems from the fact that exposure to certain highly palatable foods can alter brain circuits involved with the reward system, stimulating a behavioral phenotype of binge eating which resembles addiction. Although many studies recognize eating disorders as an addictive-like behavior, part of the literature postulates it is not possible to classify feeding behaviors as addictions, because food is a naturally important substance for human survival. However, advances in the food industry in recent decades have allowed the development of foods with greater palatability to stimulate consumption. These highly processed foods have in their composition a set of components capable of stimulating the reward system much more intensely than natural foods. We aim to support a deeper understanding of the neuronal pathways implicated in this eating disorder to provide more effective therapies against food addiction and related addictive disorders.

The focus of this Research Topic is to explore and cover scientific and clinical aspects related to the neurobiology of food addiction and to discuss whether this issue should be treated as a kind of addiction. It is also interesting to discuss the risk factors involved in drug addiction, such as stress, with addictive-like eating behavior. Another important issue is the possibility to obtain a reward system cross-sensitization between drug and food addiction. The gap in the literature about this issue is an opportunity to research and to try to find solutions for this problem. We welcome submissions of original research, reviews, and mini-review articles.


Keywords: Food Addiction, Addictive Behaviors, Eating Disorders, Reward System, Non-substance Addiction


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

23 November 2021 Abstract
23 March 2022 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

23 November 2021 Abstract
23 March 2022 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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