The prevalence of food addiction as assessed by the Yale Food Addiction Scale: a systematic review

Nutrients. 2014 Oct 21;6(10):4552-90. doi: 10.3390/nu6104552.


Obesity is a global issue and it has been suggested that an addiction to certain foods could be a factor contributing to overeating and subsequent obesity. Only one tool, the Yale Food Addiction Scale (YFAS) has been developed to specifically assess food addiction. This review aimed to determine the prevalence of food addiction diagnosis and symptom scores, as assessed by the YFAS. Published studies to July 2014 were included if they reported the YFAS diagnosis or symptom score and were published in the English language. Twenty-five studies were identified including a total of 196,211 predominantly female, overweight/obese participants (60%). Using meta-analysis, the weighted mean prevalence of YFAS food addiction diagnosis was 19.9%. Food addiction (FA) diagnosis was found to be higher in adults aged >35 years, females, and overweight/obese participants. Additionally, YFAS diagnosis and symptom score was higher in clinical samples compared to non-clinical counterparts. YFAS outcomes were related to a range of other eating behavior measures and anthropometrics. Further research is required to explore YFAS outcomes across a broader spectrum of ages, other types of eating disorders and in conjunction with weight loss interventions to confirm the efficacy of the tool to assess for the presence of FA.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging / psychology*
  • Behavior, Addictive / diagnosis*
  • Behavior, Addictive / epidemiology
  • Behavior, Addictive / psychology
  • Feeding Behavior / psychology*
  • Female
  • Food*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales / standards*
  • Psychometrics / methods*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sex Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires