Food Addiction Prevalence and Concurrent Validity in African American Adolescents With Obesity

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Abstract

Food addiction, measured by the Yale Food Addiction Scale (YFAS), has been associated with obesity, eating-related problems (e.g., bingeing), and problematic consumption of highly processed foods. Studies on this topic have primarily examined adult samples with an overrepresentation of White individuals, and little is known about addictive-like eating in adolescents, particularly African American adolescents who exhibit high rates of obesity and eating pathology. The current study examined the prevalence of food addiction and its convergent validity with percent overweight, eating-related problems, and self-reported dietary intake in a sample of 181 African American adolescents with obesity. Approximately 10% of participants met for food addiction, measured by the YFAS for children (YFAS-C). YFAS-C scores were most strongly associated with objective binge episodes (OBE), though significant relationships were also observed with objective overeating episodes (OOE), percent overweight relative to age- and sex-adjusted body mass index (BMI), and, more modestly, subjective binge episodes (SBE). YFAS-C scores were also related to greater consumption of all nutrient characteristics of interest (calories, fat, saturated fat, trans fat, carbohydrates, sugar, added sugar), though most strongly with trans fat, a type of fat found most frequently in highly processed foods. These findings suggest that the combination of exhibiting a loss of control while consuming an objectively large amount of food seems to be most implicated in food addiction for African American adolescents with obesity. The present work also provides evidence that individuals with food addiction may consume elevated quantities of highly processed foods, relative to those without addictive-like eating.

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