Shades of foods: Prevalence and correlates of food addiction

Chung Hui Wang, Olatz Lopez-Fernandez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleOtherpeer-review


Background: Growing evidence suggests that certain foods have addictive properties. Food addiction has sparked interest within the scientific community. The purpose of this study was to estimate the prevalence of food addiction to examine their differential characteristics, and the association between food addiction symptoms and physical and psychological variables, such as eating-related behaviours, body mass index (BMI), and personality traits (e.g., types of narcissism). Method: The sample consisted of 208 participants (mean age = 26.82 ± 7.89 years; BMI = 27.53 ± 12.21 kg/m2; 80.3% female; 79.3% White). Participants completed a web-based self-report survey of food addiction containing the questionnaires to measure these constructs. The main scale used as an outcome variable was the Yale Food Addiction Scale (YFAS). Results: 14.4% of participants met the YFAS diagnostic criteria for potential food addiction. Individuals who met the criteria displayed greater food craving, more frequent consumption of sugary foods, the tendency to develop eating disorders, and more negative attitudes toward and thoughts of physical appearance. Those categorised as food addicts also exhibited a lower level of self-esteem and grandiose narcissism, and a high level of hypersensitive narcissism. Food craving and body image issues were associated with the severity of food addiction. Conclusions: The findings of this investigation supported the construct of food addiction as both, addictive behaviour similar to the one observed in substance use and as behavioural addiction. Furthermore, it was suggested that this potential addiction is related to overweight and obese individual young females.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-34
Number of pages14
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019


  • Addictive behaviour, behavioural addiction
  • Eating behaviour
  • Food addiction
  • Prevalence

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