Can food be addictive? Public health and policy implications.

Journal Article (Journal Article)


Data suggest that hyperpalatable foods may be capable of triggering an addictive process. Although the addictive potential of foods continues to be debated, important lessons learned in reducing the health and economic consequences of drug addiction may be especially useful in combating food-related problems.


In the current paper, we review the potential application of policy and public health approaches that have been effective in reducing the impact of addictive substances to food-related problems.


Corporate responsibility, public health approaches, environmental change and global efforts all warrant strong consideration in reducing obesity and diet-related disease.


Although there exist important differences between foods and addictive drugs, ignoring analogous neural and behavioral effects of foods and drugs of abuse may result in increased food-related disease and associated social and economic burdens. Public health interventions that have been effective in reducing the impact of addictive drugs may have a role in targeting obesity and related diseases.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Gearhardt, AN; Grilo, CM; DiLeone, RJ; Brownell, KD; Potenza, MN

Published Date

  • July 2011

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 106 / 7

Start / End Page

  • 1208 - 1212

PubMed ID

  • 21635588

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC3171738

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1360-0443

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0965-2140

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1111/j.1360-0443.2010.03301.x


  • eng