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Findings support an association between highly processed and high-sodium foods with addictive-like eating behavior among humans, consistent in large part with prior human and animal literature. Results also suggest that people are readily able to report on their experiences of addiction to foods; specifically, they can freely endorse the experience of addictive-like eating and offer experiences of addictive foods that are largely consistent with theory and the literature.

Foods and Nutritional Characteristics Associated With Addictive-Like Eating

Neff KMH, Fay A, Saules KK.

Participants recruited via MTurk were first presented with a description of the study including the purpose (to better understand features of addictive-like eating) and anticipated time commitment (15 minutes). Next, participants viewed an informed consent document which they were instructed to read carefully before indicating their willingness to participate. After providing consent, participants were directed to the study survey. Participants were compensated 50 cents for completion of the study.

First, we aimed to identify the most commonly reported foods associated with addictive-like eating as well as their nutritional characteristics by coding the calories and amount of fat, carbohydrates, sugar, sodium, and glycemic index for each reported food. Given prior research, we hypothesized that the vast majority of foods reported would be highly processed. Next, we aimed to identify the most prominent macronutrients associated with addictive-like eating by coding reported foods as high or low on fat, carbohydrates, sugar, and sodium and evaluating their predictive power on addictive-like eating.


Sample Size

145 participants from the larger sample (N=182) were included in regression analyses; 50% female; Median age 34.1




Key Words

Neff, Kirstie M. Herb, et al. “Foods and Nutritional Characteristics Associated With Addictive-Like Eating.” Psychological Reports, vol. 125, no. 4, Aug. 2022, pp. 1937–56. (Crossref),


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