Background:Many patients seeking obesity treatment binge eat (eat a large quantity of food with loss of control/distress). A compulsion to eat despite being aware of the negative consequences is also often reported and controversially referred to as “food addiction”. We aimed to assess this in a clinical cohort.
Method:The presence of binge eating (BE) was defined as the presence of moderate to severe binge eating symptomatology (score >17 on the binge eating scale (BES)). Food addiction (FA) was measured by the Yale food addiction scale (YFAS). Sleepiness, physical activity, food habits, eating styles, perceived ability to resist food, confidence/importance of weight loss and quality of life (QOL) were also assessed by questionnaire at first clinic attendance between 7/2016 and 5/2019
Result:Of the 359 subjects who completed both YFAS and BES,6% had FA only, 21% had BE only, 32% had both BE and FA (BE+FA) and 41% had neither (NO-BE/FA). Baseline anthropometry, importance of losing weight and physical activity were the same in all subjects. Those with BE+FA had the worst scores overall. They had less confidence in their ability to lose weight, greater daytime somnolence, lower perceived ability to resist food, poorer QOL, did less sport, ate more fat, were more likely to overeat in response to emotion/hunger and had less restrained thoughts compared to subjects with NO-BE/FA. Those with BE only had poorer QOL, higher fat scores, were more likely to overeat in response to hunger/emotions, had less restrained thoughts and lower perceived ability to resist food. The only distinguishing features of those with FA only were a lower perceived ability to resist food and greater likelihood to eat in response to hunger.
Conclusion:People with BE have very maladaptive eating behaviour and if associated with FA their eating is even more disordered. People with obesity warrant screening for both.