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Food Issues and the DSM

February 12, 2011
by Gary Enos, Editor
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Should “food addictions” be included in the next Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders? The medical director of the Timberline Knolls treatment center for eating disorders and substance addictions in Illinois thinks so, believing the move could help correct a disappointing gap in insurance coverage for a number of prevalent problems.

In response to a recent Washington Post column, Kimberly Dennis, MD, this month issued a statement calling for food addiction to be part of the fifth edition of the DSM, due out in 2013. She further explained to Addiction Professional the difficulties in obtaining insurance reimbursement for treatment of food-related illnesses.

Dennis said that when a person with a food-related illness does not meet diagnostic criteria for anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa, the diagnosis of “eating disorder not otherwise specified” is usually given. Insurance rarely covers this diagnosis, she said. And even in anorexia and bulimia cases, insurance payment usually extends only through the period when a patient exhibits abnormal vital signs or lab readings, Dennis said.

Dennis believes that adding food addiction to the DSM would help legitimize treatment services that are delivered by facilities such as hers ever day, such as for people with binge eating disorders. She said of these individuals in her statement, “Many times this happens with adolescents and women who seek treatment primarily for depression or other addictions, and don’t realize overeating is a part of their disease.”

What do you think? Should more non-alcohol and –drug related addictions be incorporated into the DSM?



Many people find help in Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous. Some of us have been diagnosed as morbidly obese while others are undereaters. Among us are those who were severely bulimic, who have harmed themselves with compulsive exercise, or whose quality of life was impaired by constant obsession with food or weight. We tend to be people who, in the long-term, have failed at every solution we tried, including therapy, support groups, diets, fasting, exercise, and in-patient treatment programs.

FA has over 500 meetings throughout the United States in large and small cities such as Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Charlotte, Grand Rapids, Atlanta, Fort Lauderdale, Austin, and Washington, D.C. Internationally, FA currently has groups in England, Canada, Germany, New Zealand and Australia. If you would like more information about FA, please check out our website at www [dot] foodaddicts [dot] org. If there aren’t any meetings in your area, you can contact the office by emailing FA at foodaddicts [dot] org, where someone will help you.

Gary Enos


Gary Enos

Gary A. Enos has been the editor of Addiction Professional since its inception. He also...

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