Do you feel like you’re addicted to food?

Thursday, 9 September 2021

A new study by researchers from the University of Newcastle and Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI) will investigate treatments to assist individuals with addictive eating behaviours.

Addictive eating

The project is known as TRACE – Targeted Research on Addictive and Compulsive Eating is a personality-based eating awareness program.

Addictive overeating is a growing area of research. This study will look to trial two different interventions for people experiencing difficulties with what they eat. Participants in the trial will be split into three groups and receive different interventions over six months.

To be eligible for the trial participants must be adults who exhibit symptoms of addictive eating behaviours such as eating more than planned, having strong cravings towards certain foods or repeated unsuccessful attempts to change behaviour. Participants must also be currently living in Australia and with access to the internet. A full list of eligibility criteria is available on the study website.

The first group will receive five online telehealth sessions with a dietitian to assist participants with improving addictive eating behaviours. The dietitian will address dietary intake and help set nutrition and health goals based on aspects of personality. This group will also have access to a self-guided workbook, access to the study website and the opportunity to participate in an online support group.

The second group in the study will have access to a self-guided workbook, access to the study website and the opportunity to participate in an online support group.

The third group will act as a control and will maintain their normal eating habits for six months. At the end of the period, they will be given access to all the same materials as group two.

Project leader Professor Tracy Burrows said the study was an exciting chance for those people wanting to improve their relationship with food to participate in research and potentially help improve their health and well-being.

“The area of food addiction is increasingly being understood and this study provides a new approach when compared to other more traditional approaches to behaviour change,” Professor Burrows said.

“We know from experience there are many people in the community who feel like they have an addiction to food or addictive overeating behaviours. In this study we hope to see whether people who feel they have addictive behaviours with food will respond to different treatments and how they compare to people without those addictive behaviours.”

For more information on taking part in the trial contact Professor Tracy Burrows on (02 49215514) or or visit the trial's website.

* HMRI is a partnership between the University of Newcastle, Hunter New England Health and the community.

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