A recent report published in the journal Appetite has allegedly concluded that “the same kinds of impulsive behavior that lead some people to abuse alcohol and other drugs may also be an important contributor to an unhealthy relationship with food.” Cara Murphy, et al., “Interrelationships among impul- sive personality traits, food addiction, and Body Mass Index,” Appetite, January 2014. According to a January 24, 2014, press release, University of Georgia researchers apparently “used two different scales, the Yale Food Addiction Scale and the UPPS-P Impulsive Behavior Scale, to determine levels of food addiction and impulsivity among the 223 participants,” and “then compared these results with each participant’s body mass index.”

Their findings evidently showed that individuals “who reported acting more rashly when experiencing strong levels of positive (Positive Urgency) and negative (Negative Urgency) emotions, endorsed more symptoms of addictive eating,” while those “who reported more food addiction symptoms indicated that they often did things without thinking (lack of Premeditation) and that they had difficulty following through with boring and/or challenging tasks (lack of Perseverance).”The study’s authors also identified an indirect association between impulsivity and BMI, noting that both Negative Urgency and lack of Perseverance were indirectly associated with having a higher BMI, “as a function of food addiction symptoms.”

“The notion of food addiction is a very new one, and one that has generated  a lot of interest,” one of the study’s authors was quoted as saying. “My lab generally studies alcohol, nicotine and other forms of drug addiction, but we think it’s possible to think about impulsivity, food addiction and obesity using some of the same techniques… Our study shows that impulsive behavior was not necessarily associated with obesity, but impulsive behaviors can lead to food addiction.”