Cheesecake-eating Rats And The Question Of Food Addiction, Nature Neuroscience, May 2010
First, they defend the parallel:
"Unlike drugs, food is essential for survival, but frequent consumption of bacon, sausage and cheesecake (the rats’ cafeteria diet) is not. The availability of such foods in most developed societies has increased so quickly that, similar to addictive drugs, they may stimulate brain reward systems more powerfully than we have evolved to handle, signaling a false fitness benefit and thereby reinforcing unhealthy patterns of consumption."Caveat one:
"If diagnostic criteria for food addiction were written to parallel the current diagnostic criteria for drug addiction, focusing on patterns of consumption that are maladaptive or problematic in any way, one could even argue that food addiction is neither necessary nor sufficient for obesity."Caveat two:
"The second caveat is that, in the realm of behavioral causes of obesity, if we invoke the concept of addiction, we need to remember what we have learned from the study of other addictions: addiction does not obliterate the capacity for choice. Even addiction to intravenous heroin and crack cocaine can be highly responsive to consequences when the consequences (for example, money) are sufficiently large and predictable."In sum:
"To restate the two caveats, whatever entity we call food addiction should not be seen as an excuse for unhealthy eating and the unhealthy eating associated with food addiction should not be equated with obesity."