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Food Addiction: Is it a Thing? Implications for Treating Eating Disorders

A Part of SunCloud's Continuing Education Series of Events

Food Addiction: Is it a Thing? Implications for Treating Eating Disorders?
Presented by: Dr. Nicole Avena, PhD
April 21, 2023.

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.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Analyze the latest scientific research on food addiction as it relates to body weight and food cravings.
  2. Explain how the criteria for addiction have been identified with processed foods.
  3. Discuss the psychology of abstinence from or restriction of processed foods within the context of eating disorder treatments.

Watch the Presentation

Highlights from the Presentation



About the Speaker

Dr. Nicole Avena
Dr. Nicole Avena is an Associate Professor of Neuroscience at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City and a Visiting Professor of Health Psychology at Princeton University. She is a research neuroscientist and expert in nutrition, diet, and addiction, focusing on nutrition during early life, pregnancy, and women’s health. She has done groundbreaking work developing models to characterize food addiction and the dangers of excess sugar intake. Her research achievements have been honored by awards from several groups, including the New York Academy of Sciences, the American Psychological Association, and the National Institute on Drug Abuse.


Joint Accreditation Statement

Joint Accreditation Statement: In support of improving patient care, this activity has been planned and implemented by Amedco LLC and Galen Mental Health.  Amedco LLC is jointly accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME), the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE), and the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), to provide continuing education for the healthcare team. Amedco Joint Accreditation #4008163.


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