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World's First Study on Food Addiction Concludes Addiction Contributes to Obesity

September 25, 2013 2:39 am

A new paper by Ph.D. student Pardis Pedram from the laboratory of Dr. Guang Sun, professor at Memorial University of Newfoundland, shows that food addiction is an important contributing factor in the development of obesity.

"Our findings are the first of their kind in the world," said Dr. Sun, the senior author. "We have shown that food addiction is an important contributing factor in the development of the common form of obesity in the general population. The prevalence of food addiction was 5.4 percent in the entire study and increased concomitantly with obesity status defined by either body mass index (BMI) or body fat percentage."

This is the first scientific study of food addiction at the population level. A total of 652 adults from the Canadian province Newfoundland and Labrador - 415 women and 237 men - participated in this study. Food addiction was assessed using the Yale Food Addiction Scale and the macronutrient intake was determined from the Willet Food Frequency Questionnaire.

Furthermore the study found that the clinical symptom count(s) of food addiction (similar to the measurement of fasting blood sugar concentration in diabetic patients) is strongly associated with the severity of obesity. The study also revealed that women are twice as likely to be diagnosed with food addiction than men.

"More remarkably, the food addiction scores are proportionally associated with adiposity measurements in non-food addicted people, or the remaining 94.6 per cent of the population," said Dr. Sun. "For some individuals not clinically diagnosed as food addicts, food addiction is potentially part of the cause of excessive body fat."

The findings of food addiction in the development of human obesity are a big factor for physicians, insurance companies and governments to consider in treatment method, insurance and government policy-making, similar to the history of smoking on human health, said Dr. Sun.

Source: Memorial University of Newfoundland

Published with permission from RISMedia.