Food and beverage consumption and food addiction among women in the nurses’ health studies (2017)

Appetite. 2017 Nov 1. pii: S0195-6663(17)30299-4. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2017.10.038.

Lemeshow AR1, Rimm EB2, Hasin DS3, Gearhardt AN4, Flint AJ5, Field AE6, Genkinger JM7.



Previous studies have not addressed a fundamental component of a food addiction disorder: the compulsive relationship between eating and potentially positively reinforcing foods. We aimed to evaluate the association between food consumption and food addiction.


We conducted cross-sectional analyses merging data from the Nurses’ Health Study (n = 58,625) and Nurses’ Health Study II (n = 65,063), two prospective cohort studies of female nurses in the United States.


ments: Diet was assessed in 2006-2007 using a food frequency questionnaire, and food addiction was assessed in 2008-2009 using the Modified Yale Food Addiction Scale.


The prevalence of food addiction was 5.4%. The odds of food addiction were strongest among nurses consuming 5 + servings/week (compared with <1 serving/month) of hamburgers (MVOR 4.08; 95% CI, 2.66-6.25), French fries (MVOR, 2.37; 95% CI, 1.59-3.51) and pizza (MVOR, 2.49; 95% CI, 1.67-3.69). Consumption of red/processed meat, low/no fat snacks/desserts, and low calorie beverages was positively associated with food addiction, while consumption of refined grains, sugar-sweetened beverages and fruit and vegetables was inversely associated with food addiction.


This epidemiologic study is the largest to examine food consumption and food addiction. Food addiction was positively associated with consumption of many hypothesized positively reinforcing foods that include a combination of carbohydrates and fats such as snacks/desserts, “fast foods” and candy bars. However, it was inversely or not associated with certain sweet foods, refined grains, and sugar-sweetened beverages, which is consistent with literature suggesting that carbohydrates (without other ingredients) are less associated with food addiction. Longitudinal analyses will help untangle the temporal order between food consumption and food addiction, as some relationships in our analyses were difficult to interpret due to the cross-sectional design.