Is there a place for obesity in DSM-V?


  • Michael J. Devlin MD

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, New York
    • New York State Psychiatric Institute, Unit 116, 1051 Riverside Drive, New York, NY 10032
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To revisit the merits and problems inherent in considering obesity, or some aspect of obesity, as a mental or behavioral disorder.


The author suggests shifting the focus from the state of obesity to the process of nonhomeostatic overeating that results in obesity. Studies are reviewed that pertain to various models of nonnormative overeating including eating disorder models that stress the form of overeating, substance use disorder models focusing on its consequences, and affect regulation or stress response models focusing on its function.


Studies focusing on abnormal eating patterns, including binge eating and night eating suggest that such patterns may be related to the development of obesity. While the literature pertaining to substance use and other models of nonhomeostatic overeating is beginning to mount, current evidence is mostly preliminary and indirect.


An attempt to devise diagnostic criteria based on the above models raises multiple difficulties, since the phenomena central to each model are dimensional, common, and variably associated with distress or dysfunction. A detailed understanding of the neurobiological relationships among eating behavior, reward systems, and affect regulation systems will enable a more meaningful consideration of these models and will facilitate specific treatment for disorders of overeating. © 2007 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Int J Eat Disord 2007