Knowledge Based Bio-Economy


The integrated neurobiology of food intake, addiction and stress (Nutrition)

Project acronym: NeuroFAST

Title of project: The integrated neurobiology of food intake, addiction and stress

Research area: Nutrition

Contract No: 245009

EU contribution: €5 999 984

Start date: April 2010

Duration: 60 months

Status: on-going

NeuroFAST is a multidisciplinary project, involving twelve teams from 7 countries. The project is exploring the neurobiology of stress, addiction and eating behaviour and the complex socio-psychological forces that lead to the deregulation of these interconnected events and processes. These forces include dietary components (in particular highly palatable foods and alcohol), some of which may have addictive properties, but also cultural and social pressures, everyday sources of stress and family-genetic influences on these. The project will provide new data from human studies, including human nutritional studies, that is needed to inform Health Policy initiatives. This will be underpinned by state-of-the-art research to establish a solid scientific basis for this advice.

NeuroFAST is focusing on a socio-psychological analysis of the determinants of food addiction and substance abuse, and of how risk factors like stress in the workplace are driving disadvantageous eating-behaviour patterns. The consortium will establish the evidence for inter-relationships, linking eating-disorder research with obesity research, stress research and addiction research. This work involves studies of selected individual food components using novel, designed foods with controlled components. Overall, the consortium is using a synergistic combination of controlled laboratory studies, the characterisation of patient groups, and the examination of real world scenarios based on epidemiological community samples, which will be relevant to policy development.

The disadvantageous eating patterns that are induced by socio-psychological or everyday stress, or which may be the result of (or the precursor to) food addiction, can in turn lead to eating disorders and obesity, both of which have direct and indirect costs for EU countries. By providing a greater understanding of beneficial and harmful dietary factors and the links between stress, eating behaviour and addiction, NeuroFAST will help reduce the burden placed on healthcare systems.

NeuroFAST's results will contribute to improving Europeans' health through its impact on public health policy. It will provide new economic opportunities by developing new food ingredients, formulations, foods, dietary strategies, diagnostics, and drug targets. Through its collaborative nature, it will also strengthen European research capacities in food research and boost the evidence base for public health policies.

Website of project:

Coordinator: Suzanne Dickson;,

Organisation: University of Gotheburg, Sweden,