Improving Assessment of the Spectrum of Reward-Related Eating: The RED-13

Front Psychol. 2017 May 30;8:795. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00795. eCollection 2017.


A diversity of scales capture facets of reward-related eating (RRE). These scales assess food cravings, uncontrolled eating, addictive behavior, restrained eating, binge eating, and other eating behaviors. However, these scales differ in terms of the severity of RRE they capture. We sought to incorporate the items from existing scales to broaden the 9-item Reward-based Eating Drive scale (RED-9; Epel et al., 2014), which assesses three dimensions of RRE (lack of satiety, preoccupation with food, and lack of control over eating), in order to more comprehensively assess the entire spectrum of RRE. In a series of 4 studies, we used Item Response Theory models to consider candidate items to broaden the RED-9. Studies 1 and 2 evaluated the abilities of additional items from existing scales to increase the RED-9's coverage across the spectrum of RRE. Study 3 evaluated candidate items identified in Studies 1 and 2 in a new sample to assess the extent to which they accounted for more variance in areas less well-covered by the RED-9. Study 4 tested the ability of the RED-13 to provide consistent coverage across the range of the RRE spectrum. The resultant RED-13 accounted for greater variability than the RED-9 by reducing gaps in coverage of RRE in middle-to-low ranges. Like the RED-9, the RED-13 was positively correlated with BMI. The RED-13 was also positively related to a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes as well as cravings for sweet and savory foods. In summary, the RED-13 is a brief self-report measure that broadly captures the spectrum of RRE and may be a useful tool for identifying individuals at risk for overweight or obesity.

Keywords: assessment; eating behavior; item response theory; obesity; reward-driven eating; reward-related eating; uncontrolled eating.