DOI: 10.1111/obr.12542">

Obesity and addiction: Can a complication of surgery help us understand the connection?

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Obesity Reviews


Obesity is a multifactorial, chronic disease that has proven difficult to treat. An increased understanding of aetiological mechanisms is critical to the development of more effective obesity prevention and treatment strategies. A growing body of empirical evidence has demonstrated parallels between obesity, overeating and substance abuse, including shared behavioural, psychological and neurophysiological factors implicated in the excessive intake of both food and substances of abuse. Several different lines of research have recently emerged that hold the potential to shed light on the connection between obesity, food reward and addiction, with studies examining changes in alcohol use/misuse after weight loss surgery providing a particularly interesting perspective on these interrelationships. However, these lines of investigation have proceeded in relative isolation, and relevant research findings have yet to be integrated in a synthesized, comprehensive manner. To provide an opportunity to achieve such a synthesis, a scientific symposium was convened at the Radcliffe Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Invited participants were researchers working in diverse domains related to the intersection between obesity and addiction. Extensive discussion was generated suggesting novel research directions. In this article, we summarize and synthesize the symposium participants' ongoing research in this area, incorporating additional relevant research holding potential clues regarding the connections between obesity, weight loss surgery and addiction.

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DOI: 10.1111/obr.12542