Mini Review ARTICLE

Front. Psychiatry, 03 November 2011 |

How prevalent is “food addiction”?

  • Department of Psychology I, University of Würzburg, Würzburg, Germany

Increasing evidence suggests that binge eating-related disorders could be related to addiction-like eating patterns due to the addictive potential of hyperpalatable foods. Subsequently, important implications have been derived for treatment of those disorders and even political actions. However, studies on the prevalence of food addiction are rare. Few recent studies investigated addictive eating in children, adolescents, and adults. This mini-review presents these first attempts to assess addictive eating and how prevalent addictive eating patterns were in the respective studies. It is concluded that the prevalence of food addiction is increased in obese individuals and even more so in obese patients with binge eating disorder. However, prevalence of food addiction is not sufficient to account for the obesity epidemic. Conversely, an arguably high prevalence of food addiction can also be found in under-, normal-, and overweight individuals. Future studies may investigate which factors are associated with addictive eating in non-obese individuals.

Keywords: food addiction, epidemiology, binge eating, obesity

Citation: Meule A (2011) How prevalent is “food addiction”? Front. Psychiatry 2:61. doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2011.00061

Received: 26 September 2011; Accepted: 18 October 2011;
Published online: 03 November 2011.

Edited by:

Marco Diana, University of Sassari, Italy

Reviewed by:

Lorenzo Leggio, Brown University, USA
Valentina Bassareo, University of Cagliari, Italy

Copyright: © 2011 Meule. This is an open-access article subject to a non-exclusive license between the authors and Frontiers Media SA, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited and other Frontiers conditions are complied with.

*Correspondence: Adrian Meule, Department of Psychology I, University of Würzburg, Marcusstr. 9-11, 97070 Würzburg, Germany. e-mail: