Abstract: With the rise in worldwide rates of obesity in the past few decades, scientists and clinicians have focused considerable attention on trying to understand the causes of excessive and compulsive food intake – patterns of overeating that are highly correlated with body mass index (BMI). Given that prominent psycho-behavioral similarities exist between chronic binge eating and drug abuse, many have adopted the perspective that an apparent dependence on highly palatable food - accompanied by marked emotional and social distress and deficiency – is, in essence, an addiction disorder. This narrative review considers the overlapping symptoms and characteristics of binge eating disorder (BED), and models of food addiction, both in preclinical animal studies and in human research. It is concluded that overeating may best be viewed along a dimension reflecting degrees of severity and compulsiveness and that the high end of the continuum marks the clinically significant impairment seen in BED. We further suggest that what we have come to call ‘food addiction’ may simply be a more acute and pathologically-dense form of BED.