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Eur Eat Disord Rev. 2015 May;23(3):193-8. doi: 10.1002/erv.2355. Epub 2015 Mar 16.

Food addiction in overweight and obese adolescents seeking weight-loss treatment.

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Institute of Psychology, Department of Psychology I, University of Würzburg, Würzburg, Germany; Hospital for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, LWL University Hospital of the Ruhr University Bochum, Hamm, Germany.


Some forms of overeating closely resemble addictive behaviour. The Yale Food Addiction Scale (YFAS) was developed to measure such addiction-like eating in humans and has been employed in numerous studies for examining food addiction in adults. Yet, little is known about food addiction in children and adolescents. Fifty adolescents were recruited at the beginning of treatment in a weight-loss hospital and completed the YFAS among other questionnaires. Nineteen participants (38%) received a YFAS diagnosis, who did not differ in age, body mass and gender distribution from those not receiving a diagnosis. However, those with food addiction reported more binge days, more frequent food cravings, higher eating, weight and shape concerns, more symptoms of depression and higher attentional and motor impulsivity. Eating restraint and nonplanning impulsivity did not differ between groups. Results replicate findings from studies in obese adults such that food addiction is not related to age, gender, body mass or eating restraint, but to higher eating pathology, more symptoms of depression and higher impulsivity. Furthermore, results highlight that particularly attentional impulsivity is related to 'food addiction'. Addiction-like eating appears to be a valid phenotype in a substantial subset of treatment-seeking, obese adolescents.


adolescence; binge eating; food addiction; impulsivity; obesity

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