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Public health concerns about the escalating obesity epidemic and its far-reaching health consequences, coupled with a growing understanding of the shared features of addiction across its myriad forms, have prompted some scientists to explore the possibility that certain eating behaviors might best be explained through the lens of addiction.
The interest in applying an addiction framework to understanding certain eating behaviors and food-related disorders has grown in recent years. This is a result of a large body of research highlighting the considerable overlap in the characterizing symptoms, risk factors and underlying neurobiological characteristics between substance addiction and what can be thought of as food addiction. It also arises from an attempt to explore how certain types of addictive-like eating might account for pathology that cannot be explained within the context of the currently recognized eating disorders of anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder. The growing interest in food addiction is also partially a result of an increasing awareness that lessons learned with regard to policy, prevention and clinical practice in relation to addictive substances might fruitfully be applied to the realm of food addiction.