BED and Food Addiction

Nearly all participants in one study had at least a mild food addiction.

It’s unclear how binge eating disorder (BED) and the newer concept of food addiction are related. BED is very commonly assessed by eating disorder professionals; food addiction, somewhat less often. A new tool, the Yale Food Addiction Scale, has been developed to assess for food addiction (Gearhardt and colleagues, 2011). This scale measures addictive qualities of eating behavior. It was recently revised to become the YFAS 2.0, adjusted for changes to the diagnostic criteria from DSM 5. Carter and colleagues (Appetite. 2019; 133:362) recently described the results of measuring food addiction using the YFAS 2.0in a group of people with BED (n=71) and controls (n=79). In this study, participants completed the YFAS 2.0,as well as an Eating Disorders Examination(EDE) interview to establish an eating disorder diagnosis.

Interestingly, nearly all the BED participants in this study (overall, 92%)   scored positive for at least mild food addiction, while very few of the controls who did not have an eating disorder endorsed food addiction symptoms (only 6%). Among those with BED and at least moderate food addiction scores, higher EDEsubscale scores were seen (except for the Restraint Subscale), and indications of greater levels of depression and anxiety were seen as well.

These interesting findings highlight the frequency with which food addiction may be present in individuals seen in eating disorder settings. This should stimulate further interest in the use of such screenings to increase awareness about food addiction, and as we learn more about how food addiction, this may influence treatment approaches.

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