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Insights revealed by rodent models of sugar binge eating

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 October 2015

Susan M. Murray
Department of Pharmacology and Systems Therapeutics, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, New York, USA
Alastair J. Tulloch
Department of Pharmacology and Systems Therapeutics, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, New York, USA
Eunice Y. Chen
Department of Clinical Psychology, Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Nicole M. Avena*
Department of Pharmacology and Systems Therapeutics, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, New York, USA
*Address for correspondence: Nicole M. Avena, PhD, Mount Sinai-St. Luke’s, 1111 Amsterdam Ave., 10th Floor, New York, NY 10025, USA. (Email:


Binge eating is seen across the spectrum of eating disorder diagnoses as well as among individuals who do not meet diagnostic criteria. Analyses of the specific types of foods that are frequently binged upon reveal that sugar-rich items feature prominently in binge-type meals, making the effects of binge consumption of sugar an important focus of study. One avenue to do this involves the use of animal models. Foundational and recent studies of animal models of sugar bingeing, both outlined here, lend insight into the various neurotransmitters and neuropeptides that may participate in or be altered by this behavior. Further, several preclinical studies incorporating sugar bingeing paradigms have explored the utility of pharmacological agents that target such neural systems for reducing sugar bingeing in an effort to enhance clinical treatment. Indeed, the translational implications of findings generated using animal models of sugar bingeing are considered here, along with potential avenues for further study.

Review Articles
© Cambridge University Press 2015 

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The authors acknowledge NIH grant DA-03123 (NMA), Gilead Sciences, Inc. (NMA), and NIH grant 1R21MH093932-01A1 (EYC).


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