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Food Addiction: A New Substance Use Disorder

Available: February 1, 2024 - February 1, 2027


This course is free to members for the month of February (2024). On March 1, 2024, the course will be available for purchase.



The food environment has changed drastically in the last 50 years with a marked increase in palatable foods that contain unnaturally high levels of refined carbohydrates and added fats (e.g., ice cream, cookies, chips). This shift has been accompanied by stark increases in loss-of-control eating, obesity, and diet-related disease. There are marked health disparities in these conditions with under-resourced individuals and communities of color bearing more of the burden. Despite public interest in healthy eating, we have failed to develop long-term solutions to successfully reduce excessive food intake at a population level. Scientific evidence has been building that the highly reinforcing nature of some types of food can trigger neural and behavioral changes implicated in addiction. Approximately 14% of adults and 12% of children exhibit clinically significant levels of “food addiction” based on the DSM 5 criteria for substance use disorders. “Food addiction” is associated with poorer quality of life, worse treatment prognosis, and greater psychopathology. However, “food addiction” is not currently included as a recognized or provisional diagnostic category in the DSM 5. In our session, we will consider from a biopsychosocial perspective evidence for the validity of “food addiction.” We will review the evidence that excessive food intake is capable of causing neural reward dysfunction (Dr. Gene-Jack Wang a Senior Clinician and Lab Director from NIAAA). Next, we will consider evidence that excessive palatable food intake can lead to hyperkatifeia through negative reinforcement mechanisms (Dr. George F. Koob the Director of NIAAA). Finally, we will discuss the assessment and clinical relevance of “food addiction” in humans, including the development of personalized treatment approaches and the role of addiction pharmacology. We will also consider the contribution of potentially addictive foods to health disparities (Dr. Ashley N. Gearhardt an Associate Professor of Psychology from the University of Michigan and author of the Yale Food Addiction Scale). We will integrate straw polling into our session to assess audience opinions on the validity of the "food addiction" construct and include an interactive panel discussion on the state of the "food addiction" science. We will finish our panel with a Q&A session with the audience.


Recorded webinar, non-interactive, self-paced distance learning activity.

This presentation was recorded at the American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting 2023.

Learning Objectives

  • Identify addictive eating in patients using empirically supported assessment tools
  • Incorporate the role of reward dysfunction and hyperkatifeia into conceptualizations of excessive overeating
  • Evaluate the scientific basis for the inclusion of food addiction as new diagnostic category
  • Formulate individualized treatment plans for excessive overeating that target addictive mechanisms
  • Consider the role of addictive foods as a contributor to health disparities

Target Audience

Medical Students, Residents/Fellows, Psychiatrists

Estimated Time to Complete

Estimated Duration: 1.5 hours
Begin Date: February 1, 2024
End Date: February 1, 2027

How to Earn Credit

Participants who wish to earn AMA PRA Category 1 Credit ™ or a certificate of participation may do so by completing all sections of the course including the evaluation. After evaluating the program, course participants will be provided with an opportunity to claim hours of participation and print an official CME certificate (physicians) or certificate of participation (non-physicians) showing the event date and hours earned.

Continuing Education Credit

In support of improving patient care, the American Psychiatric Association 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.


The APA designates this enduring activity for a maximum of 1.5 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit ™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

Faculty and Planner Disclosures

The American Psychiatric Association adheres to the ACCME’s Standards for Integrity and Independence in Accredited Continuing Medical Education. Any individuals in a position to control the content of a CME activity — including faculty, planners, reviewers or others — are required to disclose all relevant financial relationships with ineligible entities (commercial interests). All relevant conflicts of interest have been mitigated prior to the commencement of the activity.

Program Presenters

  • Ashley Gearhardt, Ph.D., University of Michigan. Has no financial relationships to disclose. 
  • Gene-Jack Wang, M.D., NIAAA. Has no financial relationships to disclose. 
  • George F. Koob, Ph.D., NIAAA. Has no financial relationships to disclose. 
  • Nora Volkow, M.D., NIDA. Has no financial relationships to disclose. 

Program Planners

  • Vishal Madaan, MD, Chief of Education and Deputy Medical Director, APA. Has no financial relationships to disclose. 

Accessibility for Participants with Disabilities

The American Psychiatric Association is committed to ensuring accessibility of its website to people with disabilities. If you have trouble accessing any of APA’s online resources, please contact us at 202-559-3900 for assistance.

Technical Requirements

This internet-based CME activity is best experienced using any of the following:

  • The latest and 2nd latest public versions of Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, or Safari
  • Internet Explorer 11+

This Web site requires that JavaScript and session cookies be enabled. Certain activities may require additional software to view multimedia, presentation, or printable versions of the content. These activities will be marked as such and will provide links to the required software. That software may be: Adobe Acrobat Reader, Microsoft PowerPoint, and Windows Media Player.

Optimal System Configuration:

  • Browser: Google Chrome (latest and 2nd latest version), Safari (latest and 2nd latest version), Internet Explorer 11.0+, Firefox (latest and 2nd latest version), or Microsoft Edge (latest and 2nd latest version)
  • Operating System: Windows versions 8.1+, Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard) +, Android (latest and 2nd latest version), or iOS/iPad OS (latest and 2nd latest version)
  • Internet Connection: 1 Mbps or higher

Minimum Requirements:

  • Windows PC: Windows 8.1 or higher; 1 GB (for 32-bit)/2 GB (for 64-bit) or higher RAM; Microsoft DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM driver; audio playback with speakers for programs with video content
  • Macintosh: Mac OS X 10.5 or higher with latest updates installed; Intel, PowerPC G5, or PowerPC G4 (867MHz or faster) processor; 512 MB or higher RAM; audio playback with speakers for programs with video content

For assistance: Contact for questions about this activity | Contact for technical assistance

Availability: On-Demand
Expires on Feb 01, 2027
Cost: Member: $18.75
Non-Member: $37.50
Medical Student: $18.75
Resident Fellow Member: $18.75
Credit Offered:
1.5 CME Credits
1.5 COP Credits
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