I’d like to introduce the Food Addiction Institute’s great work to you. Based in the US, it’s a non-profit organisation with the mission to advocate widespread acceptance of food addiction as a disease and support the development of effective treatment. The Food Addiction Institute has several work areas to achieve its mission:

  • Supply education and other helpful resources to those who may be food addicted.
  • Provide education about food addiction as a treatable chemical dependency to physicians, dietitians, therapists, counselors and allied health professionals, internationally.
  • Help identify and expand knowledge about food addiction.
  • Offer information about promising new practices in the treatment of food addiction.
  • Create a forum for the development and dissemination of innovative and effective public health strategies related to the prevention, mitigation and treatment of food addiction.

The Food Addiction Institute is at the forefront of sharing the latest developments in the field. Here are some recent advances shared by its Founder, Phil Werdell, MA:

‘The American Psychiatric Association (APA) states in the most recent version of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (the DSM-5) that many of those formally diagnosed with eating disorders also present with the main characteristics of a substance use disorder; physical craving and loss of control. Dr. Nora Volkow, Director of the US National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) goes further, stating that the scientific evidence for food addiction now is ‘overwhelming’. Dr. David Kessler, former Director of the US Center for Disease Control (CDC) and former Dean of Yale University Medical School, has reported research about one major US metropolitan area in which 50% of the obese and 30% of overweight adults are likely food addicted. In 2016, the National Centre on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) released an extensive summary of the scientific research in a report calling for treatment of food addiction using an abstinence based addiction treatment model’.

Despite this progress on several fronts, food addiction is still not widely recognised as a substance use disorder and it is still not yet officially recognised as such in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). This is important because the DSM is the de facto ‘bible of psychiatry’; It enables a psychiatrist to diagnose and prescribe treatment that is reimbursed by third party payers. It’s published in the US and also used by the Australian medical system. To this day, many professionals are not aware that food addiction is a disease that affects what seems to be a large number of people. This means that the appropriate treatment is not yet widely available to most of those suffering with this condition.

With food addiction being so invisible, there’s little drive to mobilise resources for research and treatment. Few addiction centres are interested in offering food addiction treatment. Few obesity clinics currently acknowledge that food addiction is a major cause of obesity. Few diabetes centres see the treatment of food addiction has one way of helping to prevent type 2 diabetes. And private insurance companies or government health services are unlikely to cover a condition that doesn’t officially exist.

The Food Addiction Institute hopes to create systemic change over time so that food addiction is more widely recognised among those with lived experience of food addiction, members of the public in general, and professionals across many different fields who come in contact with those suffering with food addiction.

We operate as a global network of individuals suffering with food addiction and professionals working in the field of food addiction. Many board members are food addicts in recovery, themselves. We don’t have all the answers but rather, this is a learning organisation which seeks to further and disseminate knowledge about food addiction. Check out the website for some fabulous resources on food addiction. And if you would like to get involved and help please contact me!