Rebecca L.W. Corwin and R. Keith Babbs
Rebecca L.W. Corwin, RD, PhD, is Professor of Nutritional Neuroscience in the Nutritional Sciences Department and R. Keith Babbs, MS, is a doctoral student in the Intercollege Graduate Degree Program in Physiology, both at the Pennsylvania State University College of Health and Human Development in University Park. Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr. Rebecca L.W. Corwin, Nutritional Sciences Department, The Pennsylvania State University College of Health and Human Development, 110 Chandlee Laboratory, University Park, PA 16802 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Are recently developed rodent models of binge eating also models of food addiction? Valid models should meet human criteria for both bingeing and substance dependence as described in the 4th edition and proposed for the 5th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Similarly, behavioral profiles of bingeing animals should share characteristics with those of animal models of drug addiction. We evaluate and discuss current rodent models of bingeing, their contributions to scientific understanding of bingeing, their validity with respect to DSM criteria, and their overlap with models of addiction. The models described indicate that repeated intermittent bouts in which large quantities of fatty or sugary foods are consumed (binges) are associated with behavioral changes similar to those described for drugs of abuse. In contrast, control groups consuming the same foods in a nonbinge-type manner do not exhibit an “addiction-like” behavioral profile. Thus, fatty/sugary foods in and of themselves do not appear to have addictive qualities. Rather, the manner in which they are consumed appears to be critical. In addition, while rodent models of bingeing and drug self-administration share similarities, we do not support reclassifying the bingeing-related eating disorders as substance use disorders because of differences that distinguish such disorders in humans.