Food Addiction is Associated with Higher Neuroticism, Lower Conscientiousness, Higher Impulsivity, but Lower Extraversion in Obese Patient Candidates for Bariatric Surgery (2018)

Subst Use Misuse. 2018 Feb 16:1-5. doi: 10.1080/10826084.2018.1433212.

Brunault P1,2,3,4, Ducluzeau PH3,5,6, Courtois R1,2, Bourbao-Tournois C3,7, Delbachian I3,4, Réveillère C2, Ballon N1,3,4.



The “food addiction” phenotype identifies a subpopulation of individuals experiencing substance-dependence symptoms toward specific foods. In the current debate on whether the “food addiction” phenotype should be considered as an addictive disorder, assessment of the personality traits associated with this phenotype would provide arguments for or against the “food addiction” phenotype and its inclusion in the “substance-related and addictive disorder” category.


To assess the personality characteristics associated with the “food addiction” phenotype in obesity surgery candidates (i.e., big five personality dimensions, alexithymia and impulsivity).


We assessed food addiction (Yale Food Addiction Scale), personality dimensions (Big Fig Inventory), impulsivity (Barratt Impulsiveness Scale-11th version) and alexithymia (Toronto Alexithymia Scale-20 items) in 188 bariatric surgery candidates recruited between July 2013 and November 2015 in the Nutrition Department of the University Hospital of Tours. We used chi-squared tests and Student’s tests or Mann-Whitney-U-tests to determine the factors associated with food addiction.


Prevalence of current food addiction was 16.5%. Patients with (vs. without) food addiction had lower conscientiousness (p = .047), higher neuroticism and lower extraversion (ps < 0.001), but there was no difference in terms of agreeableness (p = 0.42) or openness (p = 0.16). They were more frequently single (p = .021) and reported higher alexithymia (ps < .001) and higher impulsivity sub-scores (ps<.05). Conclusions/Importance: Food addiction shares personality traits with substance-related disorders (regarding neuroticism, conscientiousness, impulsivity, alexithymia), and one distinctive trait (low extraversion). This study provides additional data that enrich the discussion on whether the “food addiction” phenotype should be included or not in the “substance-related and addictive disorder” category.


Food addiction; addictive disorders; bevahior, addictive; eating addiction; obesity; personality traits; psychiatry; psychology; psychopathology; substance-related disorders

PMID: 29452044

DOI: 10.1080/10826084.2018.1433212