Overeating and obesity pose significant public health problems and can have life-long co-morbidities such as cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome. While there are multiple contributing factors in the obesity epidemic, recent scientific studies show overeating and obesity can be linked to alterations in the brain that resemble those seen with drug addiction. Dr. Avena will review the concept of “sugar addiction” and describe the research studies supporting behavioral indications of addiction that have been found in response to overeating highly-processed foods typically rich in added sugars. She will discuss the neuroscience studies showing alterations in the brain reward system in response to overeating. Lastly, there will be an interactive discussion of the benefits and challenges of bridging the concept of addiction to sugar and food into treatment for other eating disorders, including bulimia nervosa and anorexia nervosa.
- Analyze the latest scientific research on food addiction as it relates to body weight and food cravings.
- Explain how the criteria for addiction have been identified with processed foods.
- Discuss the psychology of abstinence from or restriction of processed foods within the context of eating disorder treatments