Piccinni, A.,Cargioli,C.,Oppo, A.,Vanelli, F., Mauri, M., Formica,V., Arone,A., Stallone,T., Palermo,S., Marazziti, D., (2023) IS FOOD ADDICTION A SPECIFIC FEATURE OF INDIVIDUALS SEEKING DIETARY TREATMENT FROM NUTRITIONISTS? 2023 -Clinical Neuropsychiatry


Objective: Food addiction (FA) is a condition characterized by excessive and dysregulated consumption of high-energy food, and impulsivity. The diagnostic and nosological framework of FA is still controversial. Therefore, this study aimed at exploring the prevalence of FA in patients seeking help from nutritionists for weight loss, along with its relationship with eating habits, in a pool of 842 participants of both sexes.

Method: Eating habits and FA were assessed by, respectively, a self-administered questionnaire and the Yale Food Addiction Scale (YFAS). Statistical analysis included Chi-square for categorical variables, independent t tests to investigate continuous variables and an univariate logistic regression analysis to determine potential risk factors for FA. The relationship between FA diagnosis and potential risk factors was assessed through a stepwise logistic regression model, controlling for age, sex, and body mass index (BMI) classes.

Results: Our results indicate that a prevalence of FA in our sample was 15.3%, with no difference between women and men. A higher prevalence was recorded in overweight subjects or obese. According to the YFAS criteria, women were more likely to report a persistent desire and withdrawal than men. Patients with FA compared with those without it, reported a greater number of attempts to lose weight, to self-dieting, a different mealtime repertoire, and to nibble continuously throughout the day. Moreover, the amount of carbohydrates ingested in the same meal seems to represent an eating habit significantly associated with FA.

Conclusions: Taken together, our findings show how patients seeking help from nutritionists may display some peculiar features of FA. In spite of its diagnostic controversies, it is evident that FA may play a role in obesity and may also be a feature of some psychopathological conditions. Therefore, it should be more deeply investigated and possibly specifically targeted with tailored therapeutic interventions.