The Clinical Significance of Food Addiction

J Addict Med. 2020 Sep/Oct;14(5):e153-e159. doi: 10.1097/ADM.0000000000000626.


Objectives: The construct of food addiction has received increased attention and has been proposed as a mental disorder. There is some evidence that supports the inclusion of food addiction in the psychiatric nosology; however, the construct has not been sufficiently validated for inclusion. This study used the addiction syndrome model as a guiding theoretical framework to understand food addiction. The addiction syndrome model emphasizes the shared antecedents and consequences of addictions even though specific manifestations may differ.

Methods: Participants were adult community members with food addiction (n = 26) or healthy controls (n = 26) as classified by the Yale Food Addiction Scale. Participants completed a battery of self-report questionnaires assessing cognitive, emotional, and behavioral domains often associated with addiction.

Results: Results revealed that individuals with food addiction demonstrated significantly higher scores than healthy controls on depressive symptoms, emotion dysregulation, emotional eating, demand characteristics, motives, impulsivity, and family history of mental health problems and addiction, providing support for the clinical significance of food addiction.

Conclusions: Overall, this study replicates and extends previous findings, particularly in regard to behavioral economics and demand for food, providing further support for the consideration of food addiction in the psychiatric nosology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Behavior, Addictive*
  • Food Addiction* / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Impulsive Behavior
  • Self Report
  • Surveys and Questionnaires