Bariatric surgery-induced weight loss induces remission of food addiction and improves several eating behaviours that are associated with the condition in extreme obesity, according to the study published in the journal Obesity.
Although, bariatric surgery is believed to be one most effective available weight loss therapy for obesity and impacts on patients desire to eat, it is not known whether it can affect food addiction in patients who meet diagnostic criteria for the condition before surgery.
Therefore, researchers from the Center for Human Nutrition and Atkins Center of Excellence in Obesity Medicine, Washington University School of Medicine, St Louis, MO, assessed whether weight loss induced gastric bypass, gastric banding and sleeve gastrectomy induced remission of food addiction, as well as normalising eating behaviours associated with the condition.
They recruited 44 obese patients (39 women, mean BMI48 ± 8) before and after bariatric surgery (after they lost ∼20% of their body weight). Twenty five patients had gastric bypass, 11 gastric banding and eight sleeve gastrectomy).
Food addiction was identified in 14 of 44 subjects (32%) before surgery, with no significant differences in factors that could affect the condition such as age, race, level of formal education, and income level.
They reported that remission of food addiction in 13 of the 14 subjects (93%) and no new cases were identified after surgery. The prevalence of food addiction in this study population decreased from 32% to 2% (p< 0.00001) and reduced the median number of symptoms in all subjects (p< 0.0001).
Surgery was found to decrease food cravings in both groups, but the decrease was greater in patients addicted to food. Unsurprisingly, the addicted patients craved foods more frequently before, but not after surgery. Interestingly, surgery decreased cravings for all types of foods but cravings for starchy foods were still more frequent in in the food addicted group (p=0.009).
“Our findings demonstrate that weight loss can induce remission of food addiction, even though subjects are still obese,” the authors write. “These data suggest that obesity itself does not cause food addiction, but that food addiction is a contributing, but modifiable, risk factor for obesity. Additional studies are needed to determine the mechanism(s) responsible for food addiction remission, and to determine whether the presence of food addiction influences the weight loss efficacy of bariatric surgery.”