Why compulsive eating could actually mean an addiction

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Do you feel like you often struggle to control your eating? Maybe you decide to have a cookie or two, and half an hour later you've devoured the whole bag. Experts have a new name for that kind of pattern: food addiction.

The symptoms resemble those of addiction to other substances, so Yale doctors created a quiz that applies the general rules of substance abuse to eating. In a recent study of eating pathology, researchers used this quiz, known as the Yale Food Addiction Scale, to determine the prevalence of food addiction among 625 men and women. Among the results, nearly 6 percent met the criteria for food addiction (around 1 in 20), with women much more affected than men.

Answer the questions below to see where you score on the food addiction scale and what you can do to get your eating under control.

A. Answer these seven questions on a scale from 0 to 4

0: Never

1: Once a month

2: Two to four times a month

3: Two to three times a week

4: Four or more times a week

1. I find myself consuming certain foods even though I am no longer hungry.

2. I worry about cutting down on certain foods.

3. I feel sluggish or fatigued from overeating.

4. I have spent time dealing with negative feelings from overeating certain foods, instead of spending time in important activities such as time with family, friends, work, or recreation.

5. I have had physical withdrawal symptoms such as agitation and anxiety when I cut down on certain foods. (Do not include caffeinated drinks: coffee, tea, cola, energy drinks, etc.)

6. My behavior with respect to food and eating causes me significant distress.

7. Issues related to food and eating decrease my ability to function effectively (daily routine, job/school, social or family activities, health difficulties).

B. Answer these questions with "Yes" or No"

In the past 12 months...

8. I kept consuming the same types or amounts of food despite significant emotional and/or physical problems related to my eating.

9. Eating the same amount of food does not reduce negative emotions or increase pleasurable feelings the way it used to.


For questions 1 and 2: Count 1 point for each "4"

For questions 3 through 5: Count 1 point for each "3" or "4"

For questions 8 and 9: Count 1 point for each "Yes"

You are a food addict if:

You answered "3" or "4" for either question 6 or 7 and you have 3 or more points from questions 1 to 5 or 8 to 9.

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