Can food addiction replace binge eating assessment in obesity clinics?
Introduction: Food addiction (FA) is a new terminology that uses the similarities between the craving for food and drug addiction. The Yale Food Addiction Scale (YFAS) is a recently developed tool that assesses the various symptomatology of FA and diagnoses FA when there are P3 symptoms with clinically significant functional impairment. As Egypt is one of the highest African countries in obesity prevalence, this study aimed at assessment of the presence of FA in a representative sample of Egyptian adolescents and to compare this new diagnosis to binge eating which has some common features with FA particularly loss of control eating, in order to define the true magnitude of the problem and explore the relationship between both so that preventive measures could be planned to combat the rapidly rising obesity prevalence.
Subjects and methods: A cross section study using a stratified random sampling technique was conducted on 401 adolescents aged 11–18 years chosen from public, distinguished governmental and private schools. All participants had their weight and height measured with calculation of the body mass index and were interviewed to fill in the Binge Eating Scale (BES) and the Yale Food Addiction Scale (YFAS).
Results: The study included 221 females (55.1%)and 180 males (49.9%). Their mean age was 13.98 ±1.93 years. Clinical BE was present in 77 adolescents (19.2%). FA was diagnosed in 81 subjects (20.2%). Each of BE and FA showed significant differences in the different weight categories. Significant relationships were found between the various symptoms of FA and the scoring of the BE scale.
Conclusion: This study proved a reconciliation between BE and FA in a non-clinical sample of Egyptian adolescents.