Food Addiction and Obesity: Is There a Connection?

Man struggling with food addiction

When it comes to addiction, many people automatically think about substances such as alcohol or drugs. However, food can also be a substance to which individuals become addicted.

Food Addiction

In the same way that people turn to substances as a means of coping, escaping, or creating a form of “high”, food can also be used for these same purposes.

People struggling with an addiction to food may frequently turn to foods that are concentrated in highly palatable ingredients, like fats, sugars, and salt.

Research has shown that eating certain foods can also trigger the pleasurable parts of the brain that are activated by drugs or alcohol.

Certain neurochemicals in the brain associated with pleasure and satisfaction may be released by consuming many different foods, and the feeling created by this experience can become addictive.

A person who becomes addicted to the experience and feeling elicited by food intake will feel the need to continue eating to reproduce these sensations. As a result, individuals addicted to food will typically continue eating or overeat, even when physically full or uncomfortable.


lady leaning on chairThese behaviors can lead to negative health consequences, such as obesity, which can develop as a result of prolonged time overeating.

While obesity in itself does not automatically mean that a person is in poor health, obesity can increase risk of many different diseases, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and more.

Many individuals who are struggling with obesity as a side effect of their food addiction may be tempted to focus on their weight, but it is critical to address the root of the problem.

If addiction to food is causing overeating and ultimately, health difficulties, seeking out professional help and treatment is essential for recovery.

As with any addiction, treatment must be comprehensive in order to address the complexity of the problem.

This may involve working with a psychiatrist, counselor/therapist, dietitian and medical doctor who can work together to help an individual truly recover. Reach out to a professional or specialist today if you are dealing with a food addiction and adverse health problems.

Crystal Karges photo

About the Author: Crystal is a Masters-level Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) with a specialty focus in eating disorders, maternal/child health and wellness, and intuitive eating. Combining clinical experience with a love of social media and writing, Crystal serves as the Special Projects Coordinator for Eating Disorder Hope/Addiction Hope, where her passion to help others find recovery and healing is integrated into each part of her work.

As a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor, Crystal has dedicated her career to helping others establish a healthy relationship with food and body through her work with EDH/AH and nutrition private practice.

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addictions. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Addiction Hope understand that addictions result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on January 12, 2016
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About Baxter Ekern

Baxter Ekern is the Vice President of Ekern Enterprises, Inc. He contributed and helped write a major portion of Addiction Hope and is responsible for the operations of the website.