Food addiction centers upon a compulsive relationship with eating.
In a 2014 Appetite study, University of Georgia researchers investigated the connection between this addiction and impulsivity. People affected by this trait have unusual difficulty restraining the momentary urges that naturally occur in a range of potentially dangerous or unhealthy situations.
Understanding food addiction
Since 2013, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) officially recognizes addictions that involve a pattern of damaging or dysfunctional behavior not related to drug or alcohol intake as addictive disorders.
Considerable scientific evidence suggests that people can develop addictive disorders related to food consumption. Such addictions occur when any given individual starts to chemically rely on the pleasure-related brain changes triggered by salt, sugar or fat.
People who compulsively eat these foods can develop a number of serious or potentially fatal health problems, including obesity, and impaired heart and blood vessel function.
Understanding impulsivity personality
All people naturally feel momentary urges to participate in various activities throughout the day. Some of these activities are likely perfectly safe, while others may involve some kind of significant short– or long–term risk.
Normally, healthy adults can regulate these impulsive urges by taking the time to examine them before acting. However, some people don’t fully develop the ability to control their impulsive behaviors. Instead, they display an unusual tendency to bypass conscious consideration of their actions. They fail to gain the protective benefits of logical thinking and contemplation of past experiences.
People affected by impulse–control problems have heightened risks for substance–related addiction and several other serious mental health problems.
What is the connection?
The Appetite study gathered information from 233 adults to examine the connection between impulsive personality characteristics and the chances of developing a food addiction.
Each participant filled out a questionnaire, called the Yale Food Addiction Scale as well as the UPPS-P Impulsivity Scale. In addition, all were measured with the body mass index (BMI) scale, which combines height and weight to assign people to underweight, normal, overweight or obese classifications.
After comparing the questionnaires’ results, researchers concluded that people affected by high levels of impulsivity have increased chances of developing a food addiction.
First study of impulsiveness and food addiction
The Appetite authors are among the first researchers to explore this link. They plan to extend their efforts by probing the issue of food-related decision-making on deeper levels.