The Food Addiction Institute (FAI) founded in 2005, is an independent, non-profit organization whose mission is to support the healing of all food addicts. To accomplish our mission FAI works towards the following:
- Advocating widespread acceptance of food addiction as a disease of substance abuse and the availability of effective, abstinence-based solutions.
- Helping to identify and expand knowledge about food addiction.
- Providing professional and public education about food addiction as a treatable chemical dependency to physicians, dietitians, therapists, counselors and allied health professionals, internationally.
- Offering information about promising new practices for the treatment of food addiction.
- Supplying resources for those who may be food addicted.
- Creating a forum for the development and dissemination of innovative and effective public health strategies related to the prevention, mitigation and treatment of food addiction.
The Food Addiction Institute was first conceived and founded by Phil Werdell, MA, a long time food addiction professional and a leader in the field. It began in 2005 as a conversation among food addiction professionals and recovering food addicts about what was needed to effectively address the food addiction crisis within the obesity epidemic.
In the early years, FAI efforts focused primarily on collecting research slowly being generated supporting the validity of identifying food addiction as a distinct medical condition and food addicts as people deserving of and indeed requiring a distinct approach to treatment. At the same time, the Institute began to collect descriptions of best practices from leading treatment professionals. A growing list of publications helpful to patients and clients, as well as healthcare providers was assembled, and has continued to grow as interest in the field has grown.
In January 2017, the FAI Board of Directors significantly updated its mission statement. It now reflects a greater emphasis on serving the needs of those afflicted with food addiction, as it continues to offer useful information to healthcare providers and researchers. The Food Addiction Institute now has also committed itself to playing a much stronger advocacy role.
Summary of Work to Date
The Institute began in 2005 as a conversation among food addiction professionals and recovering food addicts about what was needed to effectively address the food addiction crisis within the obesity epidemic. The FAI International Advisory Board was created with prominent scientists, clinicians, and leaders in the field of food addiction; their role to date has been to respond to and sometimes involve themselves in projects of ad hoc work groups. Since 2005, the Food Addiction Institute working groups and committees have:
- Supported the writing of several books on food addiction and a series of scientific review articles on the major characteristics of substance use disorders in relation to food.
- Compiled and posted a bibliography of 2,733 peer reviewed articles and books on the science of food addiction.
- Developed an International Advisory Board consisting of leading scientists, clinicians and advocates in the field.
- Created a three year professional training program currently administered by ACORN Food Dependency Recovery Services.
- Joined the Food Addiction Research Group at the University of Massachusetts School of Medicine.
- Co-sponsored, with UMass School of Medicine, the first and second National Conference on Treatment of Food Addiction.
- Helped develop the International Society of Food Addiction Professionals (ISFAP) in cooperation with the Refined Food Addiction Research Foundation (ReFA).
- Initiated and coordinated annual food abstinent cruises for food addicts, their families and professionals who serve them.
- Developed a pilot program for researching, educating and treating food addicted bariatric surgery patients.
- Published “Physical Craving and Food Addiction: a review of the science.”
- Supported the writing of several articles books in the field of food addiction recovery and treatment, including “A Tool Kit for Food Addiction Assessment and Treatment; the Basics from A to Z. For Physicians, Dietitians, Therapists and other Allied Health Professionals.”
- Initiated a series of webinars on fundamental issues of food addiction treatment.
- Wrote and pretested a three-fold pamphlet about food addiction for doctors and allied health professionals.
- Supported the development of new recovery houses for food addicts.
- Organized an educational campaign to add food addiction as a substance use disorder in the DSM5 of the American Psychiatric Association.
- Organized, developed, and will shortly launch FAI’s campaign: “Just Say It! Addiction to Food Is Real! Recovery is Possible.”