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The Treatment of Obesity and Its Co-Occurrence With Substance Use Disorders

VanBuskirk, Katherine A. BA; Potenza, Marc N. MD, PhD

Journal of Addiction Medicine: March 2010 - Volume 4 - Issue 1 - p 1-10
doi: 10.1097/ADM.0b013e3181ce38e7
Review Article

Obesity and binge eating disorder are detrimental health conditions that are associated with lower qualities of life. Individuals with obesity often face societal discrimination and frequently experience related medical disorders such as diabetes, hypertension, and hyperlipidemia. Current research suggests neurobiological similarities among obesity, binge eating disorder, and substance dependence. In addition, behavioral similarities link the two conditions; obese and substance-dependent individuals often report similar features such as cravings and diminished control over consumption of food and substances, respectively. Treatment options for obesity have begun to use this information to formulate pharmacological and therapeutic interventions that may provide improved results for weight loss and decreased binge frequency. Similarly, treatment approaches to substance addictions should consider aspects of weight management. Findings from research and treatment studies are presented with the aim of reviewing the current literature of obesity within the context of an addiction framework and providing information on empirically supported approaches to the treatment of co-occurring obesity and substance addiction.

From the Department of Psychiatry (KAV, MNP), Child Study Center (MNP), and Connecticut Mental Health Center (MNP), Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT.

Received for publication October 18, 2009; accepted December 5, 2009.

Send correspondence and reprint requests to Marc N. Potenza, MD, PhD, CMHC, SAC, Room S-104, 34 Park Street, New Haven, CT 06519. e-mail:

Supported by the NIH grants R01 DA020908, RL1 AA017539, P50 DA09241, P50 DA16556, UL1 DE19586, NIH Roadmap for Medical Research/Common Fund, Office of Research on Women's Health, and the VA VISN1 MIRECC.

Ms. VanBuskirk has no disclosures to declare. Dr. Potenza has received financial support or compensation for the following: Dr. Potenza consults for and is an advisor to Boehringer Ingelheim; has consulted for and has financial interests in Somaxon; has received research support from the National Institutes of Health, Veteran's Administration, Mohegan Sun Casino, the National Center for Responsible Gaming and its affiliated Institute for Research on Gambling Disorders, and Forest Laboratories, Ortho-McNeil, Oy-Control/Biotie, and Glaxo-SmithKline pharmaceuticals; has participated in surveys, mailings, or telephone consultations related to drug addiction, impulse control disorders, or other health topics; has consulted for law offices and the federal public defender's office in issues related to impulse control disorders; provides clinical care in the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services Problem Gambling Services Program; has performed grant reviews for the National Institutes of Health and other agencies; has given academic lectures in grand rounds, CME events and other clinical or scientific venues; has guest-edited for journals; and has generated books or book chapters for publishers of mental health texts.

© 2010 American Society of Addiction Medicine