The Clinical Utility of Food Addiction: Characteristics and Psychosocial Impairments in a Treatment-Seeking Sample


Little is known about the characteristics of individuals seeking treatment for food addiction (FA), and the clinical utility of FA has yet to be established. To address these gaps, we examined (i) the demographic, eating pathology, and psychiatric conditions associated with FA and (ii) whether FA is associated with psychosocial impairments when accounting for eating-related and other psychopathology. Forty-six patients seeking treatment for FA completed self-report questionnaires and semi-structured clinical interviews. The majority of the sample were women and self-identified as White, with a mean age of 43 years. Most participants (83.3%) presented with a comorbid psychiatric condition, most commonly anxiety and mood disorders, with a mean of 2.31 comorbid conditions. FA was associated with binge eating severity and anxiety symptoms, as well as psychological, physical, and social impairment. In regression analyses controlling for binge eating severity, food cravings, depression, and anxiety, FA remained a significant predictor only of social impairment. Taken together, the results suggest that individuals seeking treatment for FA are likely to present with significant comorbid conditions, in particular anxiety disorders. The results of the present research provide evidence for the clinical utility of FA, particularly in explaining social impairment.