Food addiction (FA) and substance use (SU) have frequently been reported in patients with eating disorders (EDs). Our study aimed to assess the prevalence rates of FA and/or lifetime problematic alcohol and illicit drug use among patients with specific ED, such as: bulimia nervosa (BN), binge eating disorder (BED), and other specified feeding and eating disorder (OSFED). We sought to identify clinical, psychopathological, and personality profiles involved in these addictive behavior-based phenotypes.
The total sample was 527 patients (176 BN, 115 BED, and 236 OSFED). FA was assessed through the Yale Food Addiction Scale 2.0. To determine lifetime SU, a semi-structured clinical interview was carried out.
Patients with BN had the highest rates of FA both with and without SU. No gender differences were obtained for the prevalence of current FA and/or lifetime SU. Patients reporting at least one addictive-related behavior exhibited increased clinical severity compared to those who reported none. Increased impulsivity (such as high lack of premeditation, sensation seeking, and positive urgency) and low self-directedness were differentiating factors for presenting one or two addictive behaviors.
Discussion and Conclusions
Overall, patients presenting with at least one addictive-like behavior reported a poorer clinical status than those without. Also, patients with FA and SU exhibited a more dysfunctional profile characterized by high impulsivity and low self-directedness. These findings would support the need for targeted treatments to reduce impulsivity and increase self-directedness, especially in patients with any addictive-related behavior, as a step towards improving their treatment outcome.
Data implicate overlaps in neurobiological pathways involved in appetite regulation and addictive disorders. Despite different neuroendocrine measures having been associated with both gambling disorder (GD) and food addiction (FA), how appetite-regulating hormones may relate to the co-occurrence of both entities remain incompletely understood.
To compare plasma concentrations of ghrelin, leptin, adiponectin, and liver-expressed antimicrobial peptide 2 (LEAP-2) between patients with GD, with and without FA, and to explore the association between circulating hormonal concentrations and neuropsychological and clinical features in individuals with GD and FA.
The sample included 297 patients diagnosed with GD (93.6% males). None of the patients with GD had lifetime diagnosis of an eating disorder. FA was evaluated with the Yale Food Addiction Scale 2.0. All patients were assessed through a semi-structured clinical interview and a psychometric battery including neuropsychological tasks. Blood samples to measure hormonal variables and anthropometric variables were also collected.
From the total sample, FA was observed in 23 participants (FA+) (7.7% of the sample, 87% males). When compared participants with and without FA, those with FA+ presented both higher body mass index (BMI) (p < 0.001) and leptin concentrations, after adjusting for BMI (p = 0.013). In patients with FA, leptin concentrations positively correlated with impulsivity, poorer cognitive flexibility, and poorer inhibitory control. Other endocrine measures did not differ between groups.
Discussion and conclusions
The present study implicates leptin in co-occurring GD and FA. Among these patients, leptin concentration has been associated with clinical and neuropsychological features, such as impulsivity and cognitive performance in certain domains.