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Prevalence of food addiction and association with stress, sleep quality and chronotype: A cross-sectional survey among university students

Joelle Najem, Maroun Saber, Carla Aoun, Nada El Osta, Tatiana Papazian, Lydia Rabbaa Khabbaz
Clinical Nutrition: Official Journal of the European Society of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition 2019 March 1

AIMS: Food addiction (FA) is defined as an insatiable desire for the consumption of specific high-fat, high-sugar foods beyond the required energy needs for sustenance. The aims of this study were to determine FA prevalence and to assess associations between FA, stress, sleep quality and chronotype among university students.

DESIGN AND SETTING: A cross-sectional questionnaire-based survey conducted among students from 8 major Lebanese universities. Students were randomly selected and requested to fill the questionnaire. 644 agreed to participate. Data were collected via a face-to-face interview conducted by 2 trained research assistants.

PARTICIPANTS: University students above 18 years old and not presenting any cognitive or chronic illnesses, after signing a written consent form.

MEASUREMENTS: In addition to sociodemographic data, all participants filled the following self-administered standardized and validated questionnaires: Yale Food Addiction Scale (YFAS), Perceived Stress Scale (PSS), Morningness-Eveningness Questionnaire (MEQ) and Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI).

FINDINGS: FA prevalence was 10.1% with a 95% confidence interval of 7.8-12.4%. 56.5% of all the participants had a poor quality of sleep, whereas 81.2% of the participants presenting FA experienced a poor sleep quality (versus 57.2% when no FA is present). 70.2% of the students presented an intermediate chronotype, 20.5% an evening chronotype and 8.7% a morning chronotype. Age, smoking status, BMI, PSS and PSQI remained significantly correlated to the continuous YFAS score in multivariate analysis.

CONCLUSIONS: Our findings denote the importance of identifying and offering help to individuals presenting a FA because it is frequent among youth, associated to higher BMI and to smoking, seems to be a very intertwined and complex phenomenon coexisting with other neuropsychiatric problems, such as stress and poor sleep quality and therefore can have serious health implications.


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