A new study finds that women with a large number of PTSD symptoms are almost three times more likely to develop a food addiction. Susan Mason, an assistant professor with the University of Minnesota division of epidemiology and community health says these findings can be very helpful to those being treated for these problems. “If clinicians providing mental health care are aware that PTSD is sometimes accompanied by problematic eating behaviors, then they may be able to offer better and more tailored care to their patients,” she says.
In this study, researchers examined surveys of 49,400 female nurses in the United States. The study showed that 6% of those who had no signs of PTSD showed signs of food addiction. On the other hand, of those who had the most PTSD symptoms, 18% showed signs of food addiction.
Though this is a significant relationship, however, it is still not completely clear how PTSD, food addiction, and obesity are connected. The nurses in the study that were addicted to food were heavier than others, but it is unknown if the food addiction caused the obesity or the other way around.
Dr. Timothy Brewerton of the Hearth Center for Eating Disorders said, “This study represents a major advance in validating the concept of food addiction, and in linking food addiction with trauma and PTSD.” Many people within the eating disorder community don’t believe that food addiction is real, but this study helps to validate it. Researchers are hoping to study the connection in larger groups of people in the future.