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Food addiction: Prevalence, psychopathological correlates and associations with quality of life in a large sample

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Paulo R. Nunes-Neto, Cristiano A. Köhler, Felipe B. Schuch, Marco Solmi, João Quevedo, Michael Maes, Andrea Murru, Eduard Vieta, Roger S. McIntyre, Susan L. McElroy, Ashley N. Gearhardt, Brendon Stubbs, André F. Carvalho

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of psychiatric research
Early online date12 Oct 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 12 Oct 2017


King's Authors


Objective To determine the prevalence of food addiction in a large Brazilian non-clinical sample. Sociodemographic and psychopathological correlates of food addiction as well as associations with quality (QoL) domains were also investigated. Methods This cross-sectional study obtained data from a Brazilian anonymous web-based research platform (N = 7639; 71.3% females). Participants provided sociodemographic data and completed the modified Yale Food Addiction Scale 2.0, PHQ-9, hypomania checklist (HCL-32), Fagerström Test for Nicotine Dependence, AUDIT, modified Skin picking-Stanford questionnaire, Minnesota impulsive disorders interview, Symptom Checklist-90-Revised inventory (SCL-90R), early trauma inventory self report-short form, and the WHO Quality of Life instrument-Abbreviated version (WHOQOL-Bref). Associations were adjusted to potential confounders through multivariable models. Results The prevalence of food addiction was 4.32% (95%CI: 3.89–4.80%), and was more common among females. Food addiction was associated with a positive screen for a major depressive episode (OR = 4.41; 95%CI: 3.46–5.62), bipolar spectrum disorder (OR = 1.98; 95%CI: 1.43–2.75), and skin picking disorder (OR = 2.02; 95%CI: 1.31–3.09). Food addiction was also independently associated with exposure to early life psychological and sexual abuse (P = 0.008) as well as with reduced physical, psychological, social, and environment QoL (all P < 0.001). Conclusions Food addiction may be common in low and middle-income countries, though possibly less prevalent than in the US. Food addiction was associated with co-occurring mood disorders and skin picking disorder as well as with early life psychological and sexual abuse. Finally, food addiction was independently associated with broad reductions in QoL. Public health efforts towards the early recognition and management of food addiction are warranted.

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