Food addiction among sexual minorities (2018)

Appetite. 2018 Jan 1;120:16-22. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2017.08.019.

Rainey JC1, Furman CR1, Gearhardt AN2.


Although sexual minorities represent a small proportion of the general population, this group has been observed to be at an increased risk of developing various pathologies, including substance use and eating disorders. Research suggests that foods high in added fat and refined carbohydrates may trigger an addictive response, especially in at-risk individuals. Consequently, food addiction is associated with elevated risk for obesity, diet-related disease, and psychological distress. However, there is limited research on whether food addiction, like substance use, may be elevated among sexual minorities, and whether self-compassion may be a protective factor. Thus, the current study aims to test whether food addiction is elevated in sexual minorities (relative to heterosexuals) and if discrimination and self-compassion may be related to food addiction among sexual minorities. In a community sample of 356 participants (43.3% sexual minority), sexual minorities had almost twice the prevalence of food addiction (16.9%) as heterosexuals (8.9%). Also, sexual minorities on average experienced more food addiction symptoms (M = 2.73, SD = 1.76) than heterosexuals (M = 1.95, SD = 1.59). For sexual minorities, heterosexist harassment was associated with increased food addiction, while self-compassion appeared to be a protective factor. Further research needs to examine between-group differences among sexual minorities for better treatment and interventions for food addiction.

KEYWORDS: Bisexual; Discrimination; Food addiction; Gay; Lesbian; Self-compassion

PMID: 28830721

DOI: 10.1016/j.appet.2017.08.019