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PCP Perspective: Should Primary Care Add Screening for Food Addiction to the To-Do List?


The 13-item Yale Food Addiction Scale was sent to 2000 US adults aged 50 to 80 years as part of the most recent National Poll on Health Aging (NPHA) survey.

The survey findings suggest a significant level of aberrant food behavior in this older population, with 44% reporting at least one symptom of discomfort around eating highly processed foods and approximately 13% endorsing enough of the items to qualify as having an addiction to food.

Patient Care® spoke recently with Jeffrey Kullgren, MD, MS, MPH, the director of the NPHA, and Ashley Geargardt, PhD, developer of the Yale Food Addiction Scale about the poll findings, whether food addiction screening should be incorporated into primary care evaluations and, if so, how.

More from the Patient Care conversation with Drs Gearhardt and Kullgren:

When is a Nacho Like Cocaine? Author of the Yale Food Addiction Scale Explains

Highly Processed Food is Produced to Be as Rewarding as Humanly Possible, Says Food Addiction Expert

Subclinical Food Addiction Common Among Older Adults, Women Twice as Vulnerable as Men: Expert Interview

One in 4 Older US Adults Meets Criteria for Food Addiction: Experts Explain

Gearhardt's lab at the University of Michigan (U-M) teamed with the National Poll on Healthy Aging, based at the U-M Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation and under the direction of Jeffery Kullgren, MD, MS, MPH, to look more closely at a population rarely included in research on food addiction. The National Poll on Healthy Aging (NPHA) surveys are fielded twice per year using a sample of approximately 2,000 respondents aged 50 to 80 years drawn from a nationally representative probability-based panel of U.S. households. The NPHA is supported by AARP and Michigan Medicine, U-M's academic medical center, in Ann Arbor.

For more information:

Food and Addiction Science and Treatment Lab (Dr Gearhardt's lab)

The Yale Food Addiction Scale

The National Poll on Healthy Aging

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