University of Calgary

Eating disorders and addiction: Theory and evidence


Kristin von Ranson
Cassin, Stephanie


Eating Disorders and Weight Loss Research


A substantial gap exists between scientific evidence and clinical practice in the psychological treatment of eating disorders. Not only are eating disorders commonly described as addictions by laypersons and mental health professionals alike, but surveys indicate that approximately 30% of eating disorder treatment programs and clinicians use addictions-based psychotherapies to treat eating disorders. However, the validity of the addiction model of eating disorders has received little empirical study and the efficacy of addictions-based psychotherapies for eating disorders remains untested. Understanding the extent of associations between eating disorders and addictions has important implications for treatment, prevention, and our understanding of the etiology of eating disorders. This chapter examines issues surrounding the definition of addiction, reviews theoretical reasoning and empirical evidence regarding the addiction model of eating disorders, and in this context, discusses the construct of “addictive disorder” and identifies future research directions.


Nova Science Publishers
New York
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