The prevalence of food addiction in a large sample of adolescents and its association with addictive substances
Number of pages
SourceAppetite, 118, (2017), pp. 97-105
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ BSI OGG
The prevalence of overweight and obesity is increasing, due to, among other factors, increased availability of highly palatable food (food high in fat, salt and/or sugar). It has been proposed that certain foods and/or eating behaviours may be addictive, to a degree comparable to substances of abuse. The Yale Food Addiction Scale (YFAS) measures 'food addiction' by translating the diagnostic criteria for substance use disorder to eating behaviour. So far, only a few studies have examined the prevalence of food addiction in children with the YFAS for children (YFAS-C). Large-scale studies, especially among adolescents, are lacking. Adolescence is of particular interest because it is a period wherein unhealthy eating behaviours or addictive tendencies are likely to develop. The current study examines the prevalence of food addiction using the YFAS-C in a large group of Dutch adolescents (N = 2653) aged 14-21 years. With Generalized Estimation Equation (GEE) analysis we tested the relationship between food addiction symptoms and smoking, cannabis use, alcohol use, and sugar intake through drinks, while controlling for gender, age, educational level and weight class. In the total sample 2.6% met the criteria for a food addiction 'diagnosis', and the average symptom count was 1.0 (SD = 1.3, range 0-7). Symptoms of food addiction were positively associated with smoking, alcohol use, cannabis use and sugar intake. We propose that future studies focus on possible genetic/(neuro)biological mechanisms involved in both food addiction and substance use and that longitudinal designs are needed to examine possible causal pathways.
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