IJERPH, Vol. 18, Pages 10979: How Does Food Addiction Relate to Obesity? Patterns of Psychological Distress, Eating Behaviors and Physical Activity in a Sample of Lebanese Adults: The MATEO Study (International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health)
Food addiction is currently not an official diagnosis (as a standalone disorder substance-related and addictive disorder) in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5). To best of our knowledge, there is no previous research on differences between addictive-like eating behavior regarding its associations with psychological distress, eating behaviors and physical activity among individuals with obesity. The objective of the present study was to distinguish psychological and behavioral patterns of individuals with obesity concerning food addiction using a cluster analysis. We determined the profiles of the participants in terms of psychological distress, eating behaviors and physical activity and evaluated their association with food addiction. A cross-sectional study was conducted between September and November 2020, during the lockdown period imposed by the government for the COVID-19 pandemic. A sample of 507 individuals with obesity aged between 18 and 65 years participated in the present study by filling in the online questionnaire, including the validated Arabic version of the modified version of the Yale Food Addiction Scale, the Arabic version of the Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scale, the Three-Factor Eating Questionnaire, and the short version of the International Physical Activity Questionnaire. A cluster analysis was performed using the K-mean method to identify and group participants according to their patterns/profiles. A stepwise linear regression was conducted, taking the food addiction score as the dependent variable. Higher levels of uncontrolled eating, emotional eating and stress were significantly associated with higher food addiction score. Belonging to cluster 2 (psychological well-being and cognitive restraint) (B = 14.49) or cluster 3 (moderate psychological distress and cognitive restraint) (B = 6.67) compared to cluster 1 (psychological well-being, appropriate physical activity levels and eating behaviors) was significantly associated with higher food addiction score. The present research revealed that food addiction is significantly associated with higher psychological distress and maladaptive eating behaviors. Higher levels of uncontrolled eating, emotional eating and stress as well as belonging to clusters 2 and 3 were found to be predictors of food addiction in individuals with obesity in the present study. This knowledge could be useful in regard to psychological treatment of obesity and addictive-like eating behavior.