Eating is necessary for survival, but it is also one of the great pleasures enjoyed by human beings.
Research to date shows that palatable food can be rewarding in a similar way to drugs of abuse, indicating
considerable comorbidity between eating disorders and substance-use disorders. Analysis of the common characteristics
of both types of disorder has led to a new wave of studies proposing a Gateway Theory of food as a vulnerability
factor that modulates the development of drug addiction. The homeostatic and hedonic mechanisms of
feeding overlap with some of the mechanisms implicated in drug abuse and their interaction plays a crucial role in
the development of drug addiction. Studies in animal models have shown how palatable food sensitizes the reward
circuit and makes individuals more sensitive to other substances of abuse, such as cocaine or alcohol. However,
when palatable food is administered continuously as a model of obesity, the consequences are different, and
studies provide controversial data. In the present review, we will cover the main homeostatic and hedonic mechanisms
that regulate palatable food intake behavior and will explain, using animal models, how different types of
diet and their intake patterns have direct consequences on the rewarding effects of psychostimulants and ethanol.
Keywords: Palatable food, binge, alcohol, cocaine, rodent, diet, addiction.
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