CMHC Faculty Members

Erica LaFata, PhD

Philadelphia, PA

Erica LaFata, PhD

Assistant Research Professor
Drexel University Center for Weight, Eating, and Lifestyle Science


Erica LaFata, Ph.D., is an Assistant Research Professor at the Drexel University Center for Weight, Eating, and Lifestyle Science and a licensed clinical psychologist in the state of Pennsylvania. She earned her doctoral degree in clinical psychology from the University of Michigan. Dr. LaFata’s program of research applies a cutting-edge perspective to understanding overeating and obesity by examining 1) how ultra-processed foods may be reinforcing in a manner that directly drives overeating, 2) whether core mechanisms of addictive disorders (e.g., withdrawal) may contribute to eating-related problems for vulnerable individuals, and 3) how ultra-processed food addiction may be a novel, clinically useful presentation to inform individualized interventions. Dr. LaFata has investigated these empirical questions using a multi-method approach, including neuroimaging, scale development, food consumption paradigms, and self-report, and she has published over 40 academic papers and 5 book chapters on this topic. She is the recipient of a K23 Career Development Award, funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), investigating whether ultra-processed foods high in added fats, refined carbohydrates, or both are most associated with biobehavioral indicators of addictive-like reinforcement. In 2024, Dr. LaFata was honored as an Association of Psychological Science Rising Star.

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