Food Addiction

Serge H. Ahmed, Nicole M. Avena, Kent C. Berridge, Ashley N. Gearhardt, Karine Guillem

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Throughout history, people were concerned with eating sufficiently to survive and reproduce. It is only recently with the advent of the modern food industry that the mass consumption of easily accessible high-calorie, tasty foods (e.g., high in sugars and/or fats) has produced an evolutionarily novel state in which many people eat too much and become too fat. In the modern food environment, people report consuming hyperpalatable foods no longer only to get calories but also to experience rewarding sensations, to cope with stress or fatigue, to enhance cognition, and/or to ameliorate mood. Highly processed foods containing high concentrations of refined macronutrients are no longer viewed solely from the angle of energy balance. Some refined ingredients, such as sugars, are progressively more viewed, by laypeople and scientists alike, as addictive substances and their chronic overconsumption as food addiction. Once a controversial concept, food addiction is now considered as serious as other forms of addiction, including cocaine or heroin addiction. The present chapter describes established research, involving both animal models and clinical research, on the neurobiology of sugar addiction. The focus on sugar addiction as a paradigmatic example is all the more important in view of the inexorable “sweetening of the world’s diet.” Much daily gratification that people derive from food consumption comes from the sweet taste of highly sugar-sweetened foods and beverages. In addition, there is growing evidence linking increased sugar availability and consumption, particularly in infants, to the current worldwide obesity epidemic. Despite the focus on sugar addiction, some of the main conclusions drawn can be generalized to other types of food addiction.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNeuroscience in the 21st Century
Subtitle of host publicationFrom Basic to Clinical: Third Edition
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages26
ISBN (Electronic)9783030888329
ISBN (Print)9783030888312
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Addictive potential of
  • Ascending neural pathways
  • Bitter
  • Encoding taste quality
  • Food
  • Food addiction
  • Food reward
  • Food-induced changes
  • Obesity
  • Receptors for
  • Receptors for
  • Receptors for
  • Salty and sour
  • Signal transduction pathway
  • Sugar
  • Sugar addiction
  • Sweet and umami
  • Sweet taste sensitivity and consumption
  • Taste receptors


Dive into the research topics of 'Food Addiction'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this