Addiction is a compulsive need for and use of a specific substance leading to a habit, tolerance, and psychophysiological symptoms. Excessive food consumption is similar to that of substance addiction. Some individuals who have trouble losing weight display addictive eating symptoms. To investigate food addiction in a sample of obese adults referred to hospital for a 1-month-weight-loss treatment. The Italian version of the Yale Food Addiction Scale (YFAS-16) was used as a screening tool in 88 obese inpatients. The construct validity of the YFAS-16 was assessed by testing its correlations with measures of binge eating (Binge Eating Scale), impulsiveness (Barratt Impulsiveness Scale), and emotional dysregulation (Difficulties in Emotion Regulation Scale). 34.1% of our sample was diagnosed with YFAS food addiction. Such diagnosis was also supported by strong associations between FA and psychological and behavioral features, typically descriptive of classic addiction. Patients who endorsed the YFAS-16 criteria for food addiction (FA) had significantly higher binge eating levels, greater emotional dysregulation, and nonacceptance of negative feelings; they lacked goal-oriented behavior, had little impulse control, had difficulty in emotion recognition, and attentional impulsivity; and they were unable to concentrate and lacked inhibitory control behavior, unlike participants who did not meet the FA criteria. Further research is needed to support the reliability of the YFAS-16. This measure has the potential to be applied in epidemiological research, estimating the prevalence of FA within the Italian population and to assess new treatments' efficacy for obese patients with food addiction symptoms seeking weight-loss treatments.
Keywords: binge eating; body mass index; eating behaviours; food addiction; obesity; obesity treatment; overweight.