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Is Food Addiction Real?

A new study has found that women with weight problems were more impulsive than average in a food-related psychology test.

According to researchers, this suggests they are more instinctively stimulated by images of food, as well as lacking will power.

The researchers note that some women reported food cravings even if they had eaten recently, a symptom of possible food addiction.

“All addictions are similar in that the sufferer craves to excess the feel-good buzz they receive from chemical neurotransmitters produced when they eat, gamble, smoke, have sex, or take drugs,” said Claus Voegele, a professor of clinical and health psychology at the University of Luxembourg.

For their experiment, researchers randomly flashed images of fatty or sweet foods — cake, pizza, hamburgers — and non-food items, such as a sock or a shoe, on a computer screen.

The women were instructed to click as fast as possible on either the food or non-food pictures. The women with weight problems performed less well than average, the researchers reported.

Tests were run either three hours after eating or just after meals. The researchers found that several women with weight problems said the test had provoked food cravings, regardless of how recently they had eaten.

“This suggests that some people may have an instinctive, psychological predisposition to binge eating,” Voegele said. “People may overeat to comfort themselves, because they are bored or just out of habit.”

Source: University of Luxembourg

Is Food Addiction Real?

Janice Wood

Janice Wood is a long-time writer and editor who began working at a daily newspaper before graduating from college. She has worked at a variety of newspapers, magazines and websites, covering everything from aviation to finance to healthcare.

APA Reference
Wood, J. (2018). Is Food Addiction Real?. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 19, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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