Incorporating Food Addiction into Disordered Eating: The Food and Weight Unit Spectrum Model (FWUSM)

David Wiss MS RDN, Founder of Nutrition in Recovery is presenting a poster on Saturday May 7th, 2016 at the International Conference on Eating Disorders in San Francisco, CA. The poster will be summarizing some of his life’s work- to increase awareness around food addiction. Food addiction has been very controversial, particularly in the eating disorder community. David has noticed that the classic eating disorder algorithm has been unsuccessful in integrating the latest research on food addiction into the treatment approach. In this presentation Mr. Wiss will review the literature and propose a model for incorporating food addiction into disordered eating. A new model will be proposed. The Food and Weight Unit Spectrum Model (FWUSM) was designed to help treatment providers and patients to conceptualize food addiction as a real framework to consider in the context of eating disorders and obesity. The FWUSM hopes to clear some of the confusion in the field.


  1. Within the spectrum of disordered eating, food addiction is the least congruent with anorexia nervosa and therefore has different treatment goals.
  2. Within the spectrum of disordered eating, food addiction shares similarities with binge eating disorder and bulimia nervosa, and therefore should be considered when developing treatment plans.
  3. The Food and Weight Unit Spectrum Model (FWUSM) was developed to guide treatment for eating disorder patients based on their relative orientation to anorexia nervosa vs. food addiction.


Although not formally recognized by the DSM-5, food addiction (FA) has been well described in the eating disorder (ED) and obesity literature. FA has emerged as a clinical entity that is recognized within the spectrum of disordered eating, particularly in patients with bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder and co-occurring addictive disorders. Integrating the concept of FA into the scope of disordered eating has been challenging for ED treatment professionals since there is no well-accepted treatment model. The confusion surrounding the implications of FA, as well as the impact of the contemporary American diet, may contribute to poor treatment outcomes. The purpose of this review is twofold. The first is to explore the relationships between EDs and addictions, and the second to propose a new model of conceptualizing and treating EDs that incorporates recent data on FA. Since treatment for EDs should vary based on individual assessment and diagnosis, the Food and Weight Unit Spectrum Model (FWUSM) is presented as a tool for framing treatment goals and helping patients achieve sustainable recovery.
To request a copy and permission to use the FWUSM, please email David Wiss MS RDN at DavidAWiss@NutritionInRecovery.com 


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David became a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) in 2013 and founded Nutrition in Recovery, a group practice of RDNs specializing in the treatment of eating and substance use disorders. In 2017, David received the “Excellence in Practice” award at the national Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo. The California Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics awarded him the “Emerging Dietetic Leader Award” in 2020. He earned his PhD from UCLA’s Fielding School of Public Health in the Community Health Sciences department (with a minor in Health Psychology) by investigating the links between adverse childhood experiences and various mental health outcomes among socially disadvantaged men. His treatment philosophy is based on a biopsychosocial model which incorporates an understanding of biological mechanisms, psychological underpinnings, and contextual factors that integrate the social determinants of health. His website Wise Mind Nutrition offers a fully online interactive treatment program that will be available in the Summer of 2022.

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