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Open AccessArticle

A Psycho-Genetic Study of Hedonic Responsiveness in Relation to “Food Addiction”

School of Kinesiology & Health Sciences, 343 Bethune College, York University, 4700 Keele Street, Toronto, ON M3J 1P3, Canada
School of Applied Psychology, Griffith University, 176 Messines Ridge Road Mt Gravatt, Queensland 4122, Australia
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Nutrients 2014, 6(10), 4338-4353;
Received: 18 August 2014 / Revised: 29 September 2014 / Accepted: 1 October 2014 / Published: 16 October 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Food Addiction)
While food addiction has no formally-recognized definition, it is typically operationalized according to the diagnostic principles established by the Yale Food Addiction Scale—an inventory based on the symptom criteria for substance dependence in the DSM-IV. Currently, there is little biologically-based research investigating the risk factors for food addiction. What does exist has focused almost exclusively on dopaminergic reward pathways in the brain. While brain opioid signaling has also been strongly implicated in the control of food intake, there is no research examining this neural circuitry in the association with food addiction. The purpose of the study was therefore to test a model predicting that a stronger activation potential of opioid circuitry-as indicated by the functional A118G marker of the mu-opioid receptor gene-would serve as an indirect risk factor for food addiction via a heightened hedonic responsiveness to palatable food. Results confirmed these relationships. In addition, our findings that the food-addiction group had significantly higher levels of hedonic responsiveness to food suggests that this bio-behavioral trait may foster a proneness to overeating, to episodes of binge eating, and ultimately to a compulsive and addictive pattern of food intake. View Full-Text
Keywords: food addiction; hedonic responsiveness; mu opioid receptor; A118G food addiction; hedonic responsiveness; mu opioid receptor; A118G
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Davis, C.; Loxton, N.J. A Psycho-Genetic Study of Hedonic Responsiveness in Relation to “Food Addiction”. Nutrients 2014, 6, 4338-4353.

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