Background/aims: It has been suggested that addiction to certain types of foods, particularly energy-dense, hyper-palatable foods, could be contributing to overeating and subsequent obesity. However, no studies have investigated possible variations in dietary intake profiles in those displaying addictive-like eating behaviours. The aim was to evaluate differences in dietary intakes of individuals classified as food-addicted (FA) according to the Yale Food Addiction Scale (YFAS), by weight status.
Methods: Australian adults aged 18-35 years were recruited to a 174-item online survey including demographics, anthropometrics, YFAS and the validated Australian Eating Survey food frequency questionnaire to determine usual dietary intake. The YFAS is a 25-item tool which assesses addictive-like eating behaviours according to the diagnostic criteria for substance dependence. Participants were classified as FA according to the YFAS predefined scoring system and were divided into two broad weight status categories according to BMI [underweight/healthy weight (UW/HW), overweight/obese (OW/OB)] for comparison.
Results: 462 participants completed the survey with 14.7% (n=68) classified as FA (96% female, mean BMI 26.4±7.6kg/m2, 46% OW/OB). OW/OB FA participants had significantly higher intakes of take-away (UW/HW=6.6±6.1%, OW/OB=13.5±10.6%, p=.001) and energy-dense, nutrient-poor foods (UW/HW=31.7±16.0%, OW/OB=44.9±14.1%, p<.001), and lower intakes of vegetables (UW/HW=9.7±4.1%, OW/OB=6.4±3.4%, p<.001) and core foods (UW/HW=68.3±16.0%, OW/OB=55.1±14.1%, p≤.001) compared UW/HW FA.
Conclusions: This study provides novel data that within a group classified as FA, individuals report differences in dietary profiles that can contribute to differences in weight status, indicating that future nutrition-related treatment strategies for addictive-like eating should be individualised
Funding source: N/A