Measurement Invariance of the Yale Food Addiction Scale 2.0 Across Gender and Racial Groups

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Food addiction describes a psychological and behavioral eating pattern that is similar to the experience of those compulsively taking drugs of abuse. Recent developments related to food addiction, including the development and validation of an updated measure (Yale Food Addiction Scale 2.0; Gearhardt, Corbin, & Brownell, 2016), have increased knowledge as to the prevalence and associated correlates of food addiction. However, less is known about the phenomenological experience of food addiction in diverse samples or how the existing measure of food addiction performs in heterogeneous samples. In a cross-sectional survey design, using a diverse sample of undergraduate students (N = 642) tests of measurement invariance were performed. Confirmatory factor analysis supported the hypothesized factor structure, indicating a single latent construct of food addiction modeled by 11 dichotomous indicators, in samples of White and Black participants as well as samples of men and women. Measurement invariance testing across the various demographic groups broadly provided good psychometric support for use of the measure. However, a single indicator related to attempts to cut down on highly palatable food varied across men and women. Thus, when using the measure in mixed gender samples researchers may consider obtaining additional information regarding gender and its relative impact on the experience of food addiction, particularly with respect to efforts to quit or cut down intake of highly palatable foods.

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