Addictive-Like Eating, Body Mass Index, and Psychological Correlates in a Community Sample of Preadolescents

J Pediatr Health Care. 2016 May-Jun;30(3):216-23. doi: 10.1016/j.pedhc.2015.06.010. Epub 2015 Aug 7.


Introduction: The two main objectives were to identify addictive-like eating in youth and determine the relationship between addictive-like eating, hedonic hunger, and psychological variables.

Method: A cross-sectional design was used. Each subject's objective heights and weights were measured. Subjects completed questionnaires about anxiety, depression, appetitive responsiveness, addictive-like eating, other forms of disordered eating, and exercise patterns.

Results: Sixty-five children, ages 9 to 14 years, participated in the study. The mean body mass index percentile for age and gender was 69%. Thirty-eight percent of the children were either overweight or obese. Sixteen percent reported three or more addictive-like eating behaviors, and 4% met the criteria for "food addiction." Addictive-like eating was significantly correlated with appetitive responsiveness but not body mass index, anxiety, depression, or other measures of disordered eating.

Discussion: Addictive-like eating occurs in children as young as 9 years and appears to be a different type of disordered eating. The hedonic value and proximity of food is a contributor to addictive-like eating behaviors.

Keywords: Obesity; appetitive responsiveness; food addiction; preadolescent.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Behavior, Addictive / psychology*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Feeding Behavior / psychology*
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / epidemiology
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / prevention & control
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / psychology*
  • Female
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pediatric Obesity / epidemiology
  • Pediatric Obesity / prevention & control*
  • Pediatric Obesity / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States / epidemiology