Food addiction and its association with a dopaminergic multilocus genetic profile (2013)

Physiol Behav. 2013 Jun 13;118:63-9. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2013.05.014.

Davis C1, Loxton NJ, Levitan RD, Kaplan AS, Carter JC, Kennedy JL.

  • Physiol Behav. 2015 Oct 1;149:340.



Our objective was to employ a novel genetic methodology – whereby functional variants of the dopamine pathway were aggregated to reflect a polygenic liability – in the study of food addiction. We anticipated that the composite index of elevated dopamine signaling (a multilocus genetic profile score [MLGP]) would distinguish those with a designation of food addiction (according to the Yale Food Addiction Scale [YFAS] criteria), and age and weight equivalent controls. Our second aim was to assess whether this index was positively associated with eating-related sub-phenotypes of food addiction (e.g. binge eating and food cravings).


Adults (n=120) recruited from the community were solicited for an overeating/overweight study. Eating-behavior questionnaires were completed and a blood sample was taken for genotyping.


The YFAS identified 21 participants with food addiction. As predicted, the MLGP score was higher in those with YFAS-diagnosed food addiction, and it correlated positively with binge eating, food cravings, and emotional overeating. We then tested a multiple-mediation model proposing that reward-driven overeating facilitates the relationship between the MLGP score and food addiction. The model was statistically significant, supporting the view that the relationship between a composite genetic index of dopamine signaling and food addiction is mediated by certain aspects of reward-responsive overeating.


Dopamine; Food addiction; Genetics; Mediation

PMID: 23680433

DOI: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2013.05.014