Food Addiction: A Barrier for Effective Weight Management for Obese Adolescents (2017)

Child Obes. 2017 Jul 20. doi: 10.1089/chi.2017.0003.

Tompkins CL1, Laurent J2, Brock DW1.



Findings from studies of food addiction in adults suggest those with food addiction are less successful in weight-loss interventions. Little is known about food addiction in obesity treatment-seeking adolescents; therefore, the purpose of this study was to explore the prevalence of food addiction and correlates of food addiction symptoms in obese adolescents entering an outpatient, weight management program.


Obese adolescents (n = 26) were administered the Yale Food Addiction Scale for Children (YFAS-C), measures of appetitive responsiveness, and health-related quality of life (HRQOL) before and following a 12-week, outpatient, behavioral weight management program. Descriptive statistics and correlations between YFAS-C symptoms and study variables were performed and further examined with linear regression. Baseline differences were compared between those meeting criteria for food addiction to those who did not (independent t-tests) and pre-postweight management program changes were examined (paired t-tests).


30.7% met criteria for food addiction and 50% reported ≥3 symptoms. Number of YFAS-C symptoms was correlated with appetitive responsiveness (r = 0.57, p < 0.05) and inversely correlated with all domains of HRQOL (r = 0.47-0.53, p < 0.05). Attrition rate was higher in adolescents with food addiction compared to those without (62.5% vs. 44.4%, p < 0.05).


Adolescents with food addiction or with a higher number of food addiction symptoms may warrant additional resources to support adherence to and retention with a weight management program. Implementing screening measures for food addiction before enrolling in a weight management program may be an effective strategy to identify adolescents who may benefit from adjunct modalities.

KEYWORDS: adolescents; food addiction; obesity; weight management

PMID: 28727935

DOI: 10.1089/chi.2017.0003