A recent study has reportedly documented “for the first time in a large, US-based population of women” the prevalence of food addiction in middle- aged and older women. Alan Flint, et al., “Food addiction scale measurement in 2 cohorts of middle-aged and older women,” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, January 2014. Authored by Harvard School of Public Health research scientist Alan Flint and Duke University Sanford School of Public Policy Dean Kelly Brownell, as well as researchers from the University of Michigan, Arizona State University, Children’s Hospital Boston, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, and Harvard Medical School, the study analyzed dietary data from 134,175 women enrolled in the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS) and the Nurses’ Health Study II (NHS II) in light of a modified Yale Food Addiction Scale.

“Overall, 7,839 (5.8%) of the women surveyed met the criteria for food addic- tion measured by the modified Yale Food Addiction Scale,” stated the study’s authors, who also noted that the prevalence of food addiction was 8.4 percent in the younger cohort (women ages 45 to 64 years) and 2.7 percent in the older cohort (women ages 62 to 88 years). “We showed that food addiction is associated with several demographic characteristics and strongly associated with overweight and obesity,” they concluded. “Additional research is needed to better understand potential causal relations between food addiction and chronic disease risk as well as to investigate relations between dietary intake and food addiction. These findings and additional research may yield insight into behavioral factors that contribute to the development of overweight and obesity.”