Food addiction - a condition with clinical symptoms

July 12th, 2011 - 6:10 pm ICT by IANS  

Toronto, July 12 (IANS) A new study has found that food addiction is an identifiable condition with clinical symptoms, characterised by a psycho-behavioural profile as in conventional drug-abuse disorders.

The study suggests that people who become dependent on highly palatable foods engage in a compulsive pattern of consumption, similar to that of drug and alcohol addicts.

“These results strongly reinforce the view that food addiction is an identifiable condition with clinical symptoms, characterised by a psycho-behavioural profile that is similar to conventional drug-abuse disorders,” said Caroline Davis, York University, Toronto.

“This type of information will help us develop personalised treatment approaches for those who struggle with overeating and escalating weight gain,” said Davis, who led the study, according to a Toronto statement.

A group of obese men and women were assessed according to the symptoms recommended by the American Psychiatric Association to diagnose substance dependence. They were then classified as ‘food addicts’ or non-addicts.

While ‘food addicts’ did not differ from non-addicts in their age or body weight, they displayed an increased prevalence of binge-eating disorder and depression, and more symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

They also were characterised by more impulsive personality traits, were more sensitive or responsive to the pleasurable properties of palatable foods, and were more likely to ’self-soothe’ with food.

These findings were presented at the annual meeting of the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behaviour (SSIB).

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