The double burden of malnutrition (DBM) has been described in many low-/middle-income countries. We investigated food addiction, thyroid hormones, leptin, the lipid/glucose profile and body composition in DBM children/adolescents. Subjects were allocated into groups according to nutritional status: control (C, n 28), weight excess (WE, n 23) and DBM (WE plus mild stunting, n 22). Both the DBM and WE groups showed higher mean insulin concentrations than the control (DBM = 57·95 (95 % CI 47·88, 70·14) pmol/l, WE = 74·41 (95 % CI 61·72, 89·80) pmol/l, C = 40·03 (95 % CI 34·04, 47·83) pmol/l, P < 0·001). WE and DBM showed more food addiction symptoms than the control (3·11 (95 % CI 2·33, 3·89), 3·41 (95 % CI 2·61, 4·20) and 1·66 (95 % CI 0·95, 2·37)). In DBM individuals, addiction symptoms were correlated with higher body fat and higher insulin and leptin levels. These data provide preliminary evidence consistent with the suggestion that DBM individuals have a persistent desire to eat, but further studies are required to confirm these results in a larger study. These hormonal changes and high body fat contribute to the development of diabetes in long term.