Addictive-Like Eating, Body Mass Index, and Psychological Correlates in a Community Sample of Preadolescents (2016)

J Pediatr Health Care. 2016 May-Jun;30(3):216-23. doi: 10.1016/j.pedhc.2015.06.010.

Laurent JS, Sibold J.



The two main objectives were to identify addictive-like eating in youth and determine the relationship between addictive-like eating, hedonic hunger, and psychological variables.


A cross-sectional design was used. Each subject’s objective heights and weights were measured. Subjects completed questionnaires about anxiety, depression, appetitive responsiveness, addictive-like eating, other forms of disordered eating, and exercise patterns.


Sixty-five children, ages 9 to 14 years, participated in the study. The mean body mass index percentile for age and gender was 69%. Thirty-eight percent of the children were either overweight or obese. Sixteen percent reported three or more addictive-like eating behaviors, and 4% met the criteria for “food addiction.” Addictive-like eating was significantly correlated with appetitive responsiveness but not body mass index, anxiety, depression, or other measures of disordered eating.


Addictive-like eating occurs in children as young as 9 years and appears to be a different type of disordered eating. The hedonic value and proximity of food is a contributor to addictive-like eating behaviors.