Food addiction and its relationship with disordered eating behaviours and obesity

  • Gülhan Şengör
  • Ceren GezerEmail author
Original Article
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Food and Addiction



Food addiction, eating disorders and obesity are all mutually reinforcing factors, or factors that can trigger each other. The aim of this study was to determine the relationship between food addiction, disordered eating behaviours and obesity.


The study was conducted with 370 university students. Food addiction was assessed using the Yale Food Addiction Scale (YFAS) and disordered eating behaviours were assessed with the Eating Attitude Test (EAT)-26. A digital scale was used to measure weight, while for the measurement of height, waist and hip circumferences a non-stretching tape measure was used according to standard techniques.


Among the participants, 35.7% scored high on the EAT-26, while 21.1% scored high on the YFAS. Females constituted a higher ratio of those who had high scores on the YFAS and EAT-26 (p < 0.05). Overall, the ratio of YFAS high scorers was higher in the case of EAT-26 high scorers (32.6%) than that of low scorers (14.7%) (p < 0.001). A positive weak relationship existed between YFAS and EAT-26 scores (r = 0.165, p = 0.001) and the same between YFAS scores, weight, and body mass index (r = 0.263, p < 0.001; r = 0.319, p < 0.001, respectively).


In summary, a positive relation was found between food addiction, disordered eating behaviours and body mass index. Females were shown to have a higher risk of food addiction and eating disorders than that of males. Further studies can be carried out to analyze these correlations using a wider range of controlling factors.

Level of evidence

Level V, cross-sectional descriptive study.


Food addiction Eating disorder Obesity Body mass index 



This research did not receive any specific grants from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest in connection with this article.

Ethical approval

The study was approved by the Ethical Board of Scientific Research and Publication of Eastern Mediterranean University, dated 06.11.2017 and numbered 2017/50-36.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all the participants.


  1. 1.
    Hebebrand J, Albayrak Ö, Adan R, Antel J, Dieguez C, de Jong J, Leng G, Menzies J, Mercer JG, Murphy M, van der Plasse G, Dickson SL (2014) “Eating addiction”, rather than “food addiction”, better captures addictive-like eating behavior. Neurosci Biobehav Rev 47:295–306. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Meule A, Gearhardt A (2014) Food addiction in the light of DSM-5. Nutrients 6(9):3653–7361. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Randolph TG (1956) The descriptive features of food addiction: addictive eating and drinking. Q J Stud Alcohol 17:198–224PubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Gearhardt AN, Corbin WR, Brownell KD (2009) Preliminary validation of the Yale Food Addiction Scale. Appetite 52(2):430–436. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Meule A (2018) Food cravings in food addiction: exploring a potential cut-off value of the Food Cravings Questionnaire-Trait-reduced. Eat Weight Disord 23:39–43. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Gearhardt A, Boswell R, White M (2014) The association of “food addiction” with disordered eating and body mass index. Eat Behav 15(3):427–433. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Burrows T, Skinner J, McKenna R, Rollo M (2017) Food addiction, binge eating disorder and obesity: is there a relationship? Behav Sci 7(3):54. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Penzenstadler L, Soares C, Karila L, Khazaal Y (2018) Systematic review of food addiction as measured with the Yale Food Addiction Scale: implications for the food addiction construct. Curr Neuropharmacol 16:1–13. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Treasure J, Leslie M, Chami R, Fernandez-Aranda F (2017) Are trans diagnostic models of eating disorders fit for purpose? A consideration of the evidence for food addiction. Eur Eat Disord Rev 26:83–91. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    González Sandoval CE, Díaz Burke Y, Mendizabal-Ruiz AP, Medina Díaz E, Morales JA (2014) Prevalence of obesity and altered lipid profile in university students. Nutr Hosp 29(2):315–321. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Yu Z, Tan M (2016) Disordered eating behaviors and food addiction among nutrition major college students. Nutrients 8(11):673. CrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Pengpid S, Peltzer K, Ahsan GU (2015) Risk of eating disorders among university students in Bangladesh. Int J Adolesc Med Health 27(1):93–100. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Imperatori C, Fabbricatore M, Lester D, Manzoni GM, Castelnuovo G, Riamondi G, Innamorati M (2018) Psychometric properties of the modified Yale Food Addiction Scale version 2.0 in Italian non-clinical sample. Eat Weight Disord. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Manzoni GM, Rossi A, Pietrabissa G, Varallo G, Molinari E, Poggiogalle E, Donini LM, Tarrini G, Melchionda N, Piccione C, Gravina G, Luxardi G, Manzato E, Schumann R, Innamorati M, Imperatori C, Fabbricatore M, Castelnuovo G (2018) Validation of Italian Yale Food Addiction Scale in postgraduate university students. Eat Weight Disord 23:167–176. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Brewerton TD (2017) Food addiction as a proxy for eating disorder and obesity severity, trauma history, PTSD symptoms, and comorbidity. Eat Weight Disord 22(2):241–247. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Bayraktar F, Erkman F, Kurtulus E (2012) Adaptation study of Yale Food Addiction Scale. Klinik Psikofarmakol Bülteni 22(Suppl.1):S38. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Schulte EM, Avena NM, Gearhardt AN (2015) Which foods may be addictive? the roles of processing, fat content, and glycemic load. Plos One 10(2):e0117959. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Garner D, Garfinkel P (1979) The Eating Attitudes Test: an index of the symptoms of anorexia nervosa. Psychol Med 9(2):273–279. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Savaşır I, Erol N (1989) Yeme tutum testi: anoreksiya nervoza belirtileri indeksi. Turk J Psychol 7(23):19–25Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Rodríguez MA, Salar VN, Carretero MC, Gimeno CE, Collado RE (2015) Eating disorders and diet management in contact sports; EAT-26 questionnaire does not seem appropriate to evaluate eating disorders in sports. Nutr Hosp 32(4):1708–1714. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    WHO (2008) Waist circumference and waist-hip ratio. Geneva: World Health Organization.;jsessionid=169089BABACF9F11F88A931B324EB94E?sequence=1. Accessed 01 Sep 2018
  22. 22.
    WHO (2003) Obesity and overweight. World Health Organization. Accessed 01 Sep 2018
  23. 23.
    Burrows T, Hides L, Brown R, Dayas CV, Kay-Lambkin F (2017) Differences in dietary preferences, personality and mental health in Australian adults with and without food addiction. Nutrients 9(3):285. CrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Yu Z, Indelicato NA, Fuglestad P, Tan M, Bane L (2018) Sex differences in disordered eating and food addiction among college students. Appetite 129:12–18. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Pedram P, Wadden D, Amini P, Gulliver W, Randell E, Cahill F, Vasdev S, Goodridge A, Carter JC, Zhai G, Ji Y, Sun G (2013) Food addiction: its prevalence and significant association with obesity in the general population. Plos One 8(9):e74832. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Berenson A, Laz T, Pohlmeier A, Rahman M, Cunningham K (2015) Prevalence of food addiction among low-income reproductive-aged Women. J Women’s Health 24(9):740–744. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Nunes-Neto P, Köhler C, Schuch F, Solmi M, Quevedo J, Maes M, Murru A, Vieta E, Mclntyre RS, McElroy SL, Gearhardt AN, Stubbs B, Carvalho AF (2018) Food addiction: prevalence, psychopathological correlates and associations with quality of life in a large sample. J Psychiatr Res 96:145–152. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Küçükerdönmez Ö, Urhan M, Altın M, Hacıraifoğlu Ö, Yıldız B (2017) Assessment of the relationship between food addiction and nutritional status in schizophrenic patients. Nutr Neurosci. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Ivezaj V, White MA, Grilo CM (2016) Examining binge eating disorder and food addiction in adults with overweight and obesity. Obesity (Silver Spring) 24(10):2064–2069. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Wiedemann A, Lawson J, Cunningham P, Khalvati K, Lydecker J, Ivezaj V, Grilo C (2018) Food addiction among men and women in India. Eur Eat Disord Rev 1–8.
  31. 31.
    Meule A, Hermann T, Kübler A (2015) Food addiction in overweight and obese adolescents seeking weight-loss treatment. Eur Eat Disord Rev 23(3):193–198. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Grammatikopoulou MG, Gkiouras K, Markaki A, Theodoridis X, Tsakiri V, Mavridis P, Dardavessis T, Chourdakis M (2018) Food addiction, orthorexia, and food-related stress among dietetics students. Eat Weight Disord 23:459–467. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Pursey KM, Stanwell P, Gearhardt AN, Collins CE, Burrows TL (2014) The prevalence of food addiction as assessed by the Yale Food Addiction Scale: a systematic review. Nutrients 6(10):4552–4590. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Klump KL, Racine SE, Hildebrandt B, Burt SA, Neale M, Sisk CL (2014) Ovarian hormone influences on dysregulated eating: a comparison of associations in women with versus without binge episodes. Clin Psychol Sci 2(4):545–559. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Pengpid S, Peltzer K (2018) Risk of disordered eating attitudes and its relation to mental health among university students in Asean. Eat Weight Disord 23(3):349–355. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Mocanu V (2013) Overweight, obesity and dieting attitudes among college students in Romania. Endocrine Care 9(2):241–248. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Fadipe B, Oyelohunnu M, Olagunju A, Aina O, Akinbode A, Suleiman T (2017) Disordered eating attitudes: demographic and clinico-anthropometric correlates among a sample of Nigerian students. Afr Health Sci 17(2):513–523. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Abrams K, Allen L, Gray J (1993) Disordered eating attitudes and behaviors, psychological adjustment, and ethnic identity: a comparison of black and white female college students. Int J Eat Disord 14(1):49–57. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    Litwack S, Mitchell K, Sloan D, Reardon A, Miller M (2014) Eating disorder symptoms and comorbid psychopathology among male and female veterans. Gen Hosp Psychiatry 36(4):406–410. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    Granero R, Hilker I, Agüera Z, Jimenez-Murcia S, Sauchelli S, Islam MA, Fagundo AB, Sanchez I, Riesco N, Dieguez C, Soriano J, Salcedo-Sanchez C, Casanueva FF, De la Torre R, Menchon JM, Gearhardt AN, Fernandez-Aranda F (2014) Food addiction in a Spanish sample of eating disorders: DSM-5 diagnostic subtype differentiation and validation data. Eur Eat Disord Rev 22(6):389–396. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  41. 41.
    Gearhardt AN, White MA, Masheb RM, Grilo CM (2013) An examination of food addiction in a racially diverse sample of obese patients with binge eating disorder in primary care settings. Compr Psychiatry 54(5):500–505. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  42. 42.
    Davis C, Claire C, Levitan RD, Carter JC, Kaplan AS, Kennedy JL (2011) Evidence that ‘food addiction’ is a valid phenotype of obesity. Appetite 57(3):711–717. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  43. 43.
    Gearhardt AN, White MA, Masheb RM, Morgan PT, Crosby RD, Grilo CM (2012) An examination of the food addiction construct in obese patients with binge eating disorder. Int J Eat Disord 45(5):657–663. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  44. 44.
    Flint AJ, Gearhardt AN, Corbin WR, Brownell KD, Field AE, Rimm EB (2014) Food-addiction scale measurement in 2 cohorts of middle-aged and older women. Am J Clin Nutr 99(3):578–586. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  45. 45.
    Meule A, Müller A, Gearhardt A, Blechert J (2017) German version of the Yale Food Addiction Scale 2.0: prevalence and correlates of ‘food addiction’ in students and obese individuals. Appetite 115:54–61. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  46. 46.
    Şanlier N, Türközü D, Toka O (2016) Body Image, food addiction, depression, and body mass index in university students. Ecol Food Nutr 55(6):491–507. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  47. 47.
    Granero R, Jiménez-Murcia S, Gearhardt A, Agüera Z, Aymami N, Goomez-Pena M, Lozano-Madrid M, Mallorgui-Bague N, Mestre-Bach G, Neto-Antao MI, Riesco N, Sanchez I, Steward T, Soriano-Mas C, Vintro-Alcaraz C, Menchon JM, Casanueva FF, Dieguez C, Fernandez-Aranda F (2018) Validation of the Spanish version of the Yale Food Addiction Scale 2.0 (YFAS 2.0) and clinical correlates in a sample of eating disorder, gambling disorder, and healthy control participants. Front Psychiatry 25(9):208. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. 48.
    Ayaz A, Nergiz-Unal R, Dedebayraktar D, Akyol A, Pekcan A, Besler H, Buyuktuncer Z (2018) How does food addiction influence dietary intake profile? PLoS One 13(4):e0195541. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  49. 49.
    Hauck C, Weiß A, Schulte EM, Meule A, Ellrotta T (2017) Prevalence of ‘food addiction’ as measured with the Yale Food Addiction Scale 2.0 in a representative German sample and its association with sex, age and weight categories. Obes Facts 10(1):12–24. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  50. 50.
    Rodrigue C, Ouellette AS, Lemieux S, Tchernof A, Biertho L, Begin C (2018) Executive functioning and psychological symptoms in food addiction: aA study among individuals with severe obesity. Eat Weight Disord 23:469–478. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  51. 51.
    Sanlier N, Yassibas E, Bilici S, Sahin G, Celik B (2016) Does the rise in eating disorders lead to increasing risk of orthorexia nervosa? correlations with gender, education, and body mass index. Ecol Food Nutr 55(3):266–278. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  52. 52.
    Cheah W, Hazmi H, Chang C (2017) Disordered eating and body image issues and their associated factors among adolescents in urban secondary schools in Sarawak, Malaysia. Int J Adolesc Med Health. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  53. 53.
    Kelly A, Vimalakanthan K, Miller K (2014) Self-compassion moderates the relationship between body mass index and both eating disorder pathology and body image flexibility. Body Image 11(4):446–453. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  54. 54.
    Meule A, Allison K, Platte P (2014) Emotional eating moderates the relationship of night eating with binge eating and body mass. Eur Eat Disord Rev 22(2):147–151. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  55. 55.
    Rø Ø, Reas D, Rosenvinge J (2012) The impact of age and BMI on Eating Disorder Examination Questionnaire (EDE-Q) scores in a community sample. Eat Behav 13(2):158–161. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  56. 56.
    Pastore D, Fisher M, Friedman S (1996) Abnormalities in weight status, eating attitudes, and eating behaviors among urban high school students: correlations with self-esteem and anxiety. J Adolesc Health 18(5):312–319. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, Faculty of Health SciencesEastern Mediterranean UniversityFamagustaTurkey

Personalised recommendations