Food addiction comorbid to mental disorders: A nationwide survey and register-based study

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  • Christina Horsager, Aalborg University
  • ,
  • Emil Færk, Aalborg University
  • ,
  • Marlene Briciet Lauritsen, Aalborg University
  • ,
  • Søren Dinesen Østergaard

Objective: Substance use disorder is highly prevalent among individuals with mental disorders. However, it remains largely unknown whether this is also the case for “food addiction”—a phenotype characterized by an addiction-like attraction to predominantly highly processed foods with a high content of refined carbohydrates and fat. Therefore, the primary aim of this study was to estimate the weighted prevalence of food addiction among individuals with mental disorders. Method: A total of 5,000 individuals aged 18–62 were randomly drawn from eight categories of major mental disorders from the Danish Psychiatric Central Research Register and invited to participate in an online questionnaire-based survey, which included the Yale Food Addiction Scale 2.0. Data on health care and sociodemographics from the Danish registers were linked to all invitees—enabling comprehensive attrition analysis and calculation of the weighted prevalence of food addiction. Results: A total of 1,394 (27.9%) invitees participated in the survey. Across all diagnostic categories, 23.7% met the criteria for food addiction. The weighted prevalence of food addiction was highest among individuals with eating disorders (47.7%, 95%CI: 41.2–54.2), followed by affective disorders (29.4%, 95%CI: 22.9–36.0) and personality disorders (29.0%, 95%CI: 22.2–35.9). When stratifying on sex, the prevalence of food addiction was higher among women in most diagnostic categories. Discussion: Food addiction is highly prevalent among individuals with mental disorders, especially in those with eating disorders, affective disorders and personality disorders. Food addiction may be an important target for efforts aimed at reducing obesity among individuals with mental disorders.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Eating Disorders
Pages (from-to)545-560
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Wiley Periodicals LLC.

Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

    Research areas

  • comorbidity, eating disorder, epidemiology, food addiction, mental disorder, obesity, psychometrics, substance use disorder, survey

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