Food and Behaviour Research

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Clinical Considerations of Ultra-processed Food Addiction Across Weight Classes: an Eating Disorder Treatment and Care Perspective

Wiss D. (2022) Curr Addict Rep. May 2;1-13. doi: 10.1007 

Web URL: Read this article on PubMed


Purpose of review: 

To examine the prevalence rates of ultra-processed food addiction across different weight classes and offer guidelines for diagnosis and treatment. Clinicians are provided with practical considerations in the assessment of ultra-processed food addiction beyond the use of validated instruments.

Recent findings: 

The weighted mean prevalence of ultra-processed food addiction is approximately 20% worldwide and varies widely based on the sample.
At first glance, there appears a linear relationship between ultra-processed food addiction and BMI class. Further investigation indicates a J-shaped curve with heightened prevalence among the underweight.

These findings highlight the need to assess for additional factors that may increase objective or subjective food addiction symptoms including eating disorders, dietary restraint, and other mental health diagnoses.


While clinical considerations across different weight classes vary, overemphasis on weight status may detract from the clinical utility of the ultra-processed food addiction construct. Considering weight status in conjunction with other psychiatric symptoms helps to better understand the various biopsychosocial mechanisms that influence eating behavior and can inform individualized treatment strategies.