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Eat Behav. 2014 Aug;15(3):505-8. doi: 10.1016/j.eatbeh.2014.06.009. Epub 2014 Jun 20.

Problematic intake of high-sugar/low-fat and high glycemic index foods by bariatric patients is associated with development of post-surgical new onset substance use disorders.

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Eastern Michigan University, Psychology Department, Ypsilanti, MI, United States; George Washington University, Psychology Department, Washington, DC, United States. Electronic address:
Eastern Michigan University, Psychology Department, Ypsilanti, MI, United States; Yale University School of Medicine, Psychiatry Department, New Haven, CT, United States.
Eastern Michigan University, Psychology Department, Ypsilanti, MI, United States.


Bariatric or weight loss surgery (WLS) patients are overrepresented in substance abuse treatment, constituting about 3% of admissions; about 2/3 of such patients deny problematic substance use prior to WLS. It is important to advance our understanding of the emergence of substance use disorders (SUDs) - particularly the New Onset variant - after WLS. Burgeoning research with both animal models and humans suggests that "food addiction" may play a role in certain forms of obesity, with particular risk conferred by foods high in sugar but low in fat. Therefore, we hypothesized that WLS patients who reported pre-WLS problems with High-Sugar/Low-Fat foods and those high on the glycemic index (GI) would be those most likely to evidence New Onset SUDs after surgery. Secondary data analyses were conducted using a de-identified database from 154 bariatric surgery patients (88% female, Mage=48.7 yrs, SD=10.8, Mtime since surgery=2.7 yrs, SD=2.2 yrs). Participants who endorsed pre-surgical problems with High-Sugar/Low-Fat foods and High GI foods were at greater risk for New Onset SUD in the post-surgical period. These findings remained significant after controlling for other predictors of post-surgical SUD. Our findings provide evidence for the possibility of addiction transfer among certain bariatric patients.


Addiction transfer; Bariatric surgery; Food addiction; Obesity; Substance abuse; Weight loss surgery

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