Prevalence of food addiction among Iranian children and adolescents: Associations with sociodemographic and anthropometric indices (2018)

Med J Islam Repub Iran. 2018 Feb 8;32:8. doi: 10.14196/mjiri.32.8.

Naghashpour M1,2, Rouhandeh R1, Karbalaipour M3,4, Miryan M3,4.


Background: Food addiction has been defined as consuming palatable foods leading to addictive-like behaviors. Little studies have assayed food addiction in children and adolescents. Thus, we aimed at identifying the prevalence of food addiction and the relationship between food addiction, sociodemographic and anthropometric indicators among children and adolescents in southwestern Iran.

Methods: This cross-sectional study was conducted on 222 elementary school students aged 7 to 13 years in Ahvaz, Iran, using a random sampling method. Sociodemographic and anthropometric indicators were obtained. The 25-item child version of the Yale Food Addiction Scale (YFAS-C) was applied to provide food addiction diagnosis and symptoms. A nonparametric analysis was used for data analysis.

Results: The prevalence of food addiction was 17.3%. Also, the most common symptoms associated with food addiction were (1) inability to cut down, (2) withdrawal, and (3) tolerance. The students with food addiction diagnosis were older than the undiagnosed (p=0.04). The males and students older than 8 years showed a higher food addiction score than females and students under 8 years (p<0.05). In females, significant positive correlations were found between anthropometric indicators, including body mass index and body mass index z-score, with food addiction score (p<0.01).

Conclusion: Food addiction diagnosis was more prevalent in males and students over 8 years. Females with higher YFAS-C scores had elevated body mass index z-scores, suggesting that food addiction may be a remarkable problem in childhood and early adolescence and may also be related to a risk of overweight/obesity in Iranian students.

KEYWORDS: Body mass index; Demography; Food addiction; Iran; Student

PMID: 30159259

PMCID: PMC6108267

DOI: 10.14196/mjiri.32.8