The Relationship Between "Food Addiction" and Visceral Adiposity in Young Females

Physiol Behav. 2016 Apr 1;157:9-12. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2016.01.018. Epub 2016 Jan 18.


Objectives: There is increasing interest in the role of addictive-like eating in weight gain. No studies have investigated associations between addictive-like eating and specific patterns of fat deposition which are sensitive indicators of chronic disease risk. This exploratory study aimed to evaluate relationships between Yale Food Addiction Scale (YFAS) assessed "food addiction" and visceral adiposity.

Methods: Australian adults aged 18-35 years were recruited to an online survey including demographics and the YFAS. The YFAS is a 25-item tool designed to assess addictive-like eating behaviors and uses two scoring outputs, "diagnosis" and "symptom scores". Participants had their anthropometric measurements taken [height, weight and body composition (visceral fat, fat mass, percentage body fat)] using a standardized protocol.

Results: Ninety-three female participants (age 24.3±4.0 years, BMI 24.3±6.0 kg/m(2)) completed all measurements. Twenty-one participants (22.3%) met the predefined criteria for YFAS "diagnosis". YFAS "symptom scores" were moderately correlated with visceral fat area (r=0.36, p<0.001), and "symptom scores" predicted increases in visceral fat area [r(2)=0.17, β=1.17, p=0.001]. Effect sizes were moderate for all variables.

Conclusion: This study showed that YFAS assessed FA was associated with visceral fat deposition, a sensitive indicator of increased cardiometabolic risk. Future research is required to investigate whether FA predicts future weight gain.

Keywords: Adiposity; Food addiction; Visceral fat; Yale Food Addiction Scale.

MeSH terms

  • Adiposity / physiology*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Behavior, Addictive / pathology*
  • Behavior, Addictive / physiopathology*
  • Body Weights and Measures
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Regression Analysis
  • X-Ray Absorption Spectroscopy
  • Young Adult