If you are fat, you might look for excuses that go beyond eating too much and not exercising - and nutritionists and people selling miracle products and fad diets are happy to jump on the latest trend, like that fat, sugar or wheat is doing it to you.

But though some people can become addicted to eating for its own sake, there remains no evidence that specific foods such as those high in sugar or fat are addictive. There remains no addiction for substances in certain foods because the brain does not respond to nutrients in the same way as it does to addictive drugs such as heroin or cocaine. Anyone who claims it does is not interested in evidence, they are interested in selling you a book or a food.

People can develop a psychological compulsion to eat, driven by the positive feelings that the brain associates with eating, but that is a behavioral disorder like or sex gambling addiction. Focusing on food as addictive makes it impossible to tackle the obesity issue. People need to deal with their individual relationship with eating, according to a paper in Neuroscience&Biobehavioral Reviews.

The scholars do argue for a formal diagnosis of eating addiction but there is no way to define a diagnosis yet, say members of the NeuroFAST consortium, which is an EU-funded project studying the neurobiology of eating behavior, addiction and stress.

Member Dr. John Menzies, Research Fellow in the University of Edinburgh's Centre for Integrative Physiology, said, "People try to find rational explanations for being over-weight and it is easy to blame food. Certain individuals do have an addictive-like relationship with particular foods and they can over-eat despite knowing the risks to their health. More avenues for treatment may open up if we think about this condition as a behavioral addiction rather than a substance-based addiction." 

Professor Suzanne Dickson, of the University of Gothenburg and co-ordinator of the NeuroFAST project, added, "There has been a major debate over whether sugar is addictive. There is currently very little evidence to support the idea that any ingredient, food item, additive or combination of ingredients has addictive properties."