Food addiction could explain why so many Hunter residents are fat, the preliminary results of a University of Newcastle study suggest.

University of Newcastle doctorate student Kirrilly Pursey is one year into a three-year national study looking at whether food addiction exists as a condition.

Her early results could provide some insight into why figures released in March showed more than half the Hunter was overweight or obese.

Ms Pursey has studied more than 650 people nationwide, including 298 Hunter residents.

Ms Pursey was on Friday awarded the Hunter Valley Research Foundation Robin McDonald Regional Research Memorial Scholarship for her work.

Read the full article in the Newcastle Herald.