Interrelationships among impulsive personality traits, food addiction, and Body Mass Index

Appetite. 2014 Feb;73:45-50. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2013.10.008.


Objective: Impulsive personality traits have been robustly associated with alcohol and drug misuse, but have received little attention in the context of food addiction. The goal of the current study was to examine the interrelationships between impulsive personality traits, food addiction, and Body Mass Index (BMI), including indirect pathways of influence.

Method: Participants (N = 233) completed the Yale Food Addiction Scale (YFAS) to assess patterns of addictive consumption of food, the upps-p impulsivity scale to assess impulsive personality traits, and provided weight and height to generate BMI.

Results: Significant positive associations were found between facets of impulsivity, food addiction symptoms, and BMI. Impulsivity was found to be indirectly associated with BMI by way of associations with addictive consumption of food. In particular, an inclination toward behaving irrationally while experiencing negative mood states (Negative Urgency) and low levels of task persistence (lack of Perseverance) were significantly associated with food addiction directly and that relationship was responsible for their relationship to BMI.

Conclusions: Dispositional impulsivity, routinely associated with high-risk behaviors including addictive consumption of alcohol and drugs, may be an important risk factor when considering tendency to engage in addictive consumption of food. Monitoring food addiction symptoms early may help reduce the likelihood that compulsive food consumption patterns result in weight gain and obesity. Methodological considerations are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Affect
  • Behavior, Addictive*
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Diet*
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Impulsive Behavior*
  • Male
  • Obesity / etiology*
  • Personality*
  • Young Adult