Research in the area of food addiction is continuing to increase with recent reviews suggesting that food addiction is a distinctive condition that has many symptoms similar to substance use disorders. The current study explored the perspectives and experiences of Australian adults seeking treatment for addictive eating. Quantitative data for this study was collected via self-report questionnaires completed online, including demographics, the Yale Food Addiction Scale 2.0, and the Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Scale-21. Qualitative data was collected via semi-structured interviews using open-ended questions about the individual experience of food addiction and perspectives regarding intervention and recovery. Interview data was available for 34 participants, with the majority (n= 33) being females who were overweight, (mean ± SD age = 42.9 ± 13.2 years, BMI 36.5 ± 6.8kg/m). Stress (19.9 ± 11.4 out of 21) and depression (16.8 ± 10.2 out of 21) were the most prominent negative emotional states. Thematic analysis identified two themes of compulsion and control. Compulsion distinguished the participants’ experiences related to addictive eating behaviours, in particular the notion of craving. Control encompassed their perception of both the processes and outcomes of overcoming their addictive eating. The two themes identified were not mutually exclusive, and relationships between them and their influence on each other were observable. This study provides a unique contribution to understanding adults’ experience of food addiction by highlighting the strong desire to be in control of eating behaviours, and the inability of participants to overcome their compulsions to eat specific food despite minimal anticipation of positive effect.
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