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Prev Med. 2016 Sep;90:39-46. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2016.06.018. Epub 2016 Jun 14.

Believing that certain foods are addictive is associated with support for obesity-related public policies.

Author information

1
Department of Nutrition, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, 665 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02115, United States. Electronic address: ajm978@mail.harvard.edu.
2
Department of Nutrition, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, 665 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02115, United States. Electronic address: aam231@mail.harvard.edu.
3
Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, 677 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02115, United States. Electronic address: jas050@mail.harvard.edu.
4
Department of Psychology, University of Michigan, 530 Church Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1043, United States. Electronic address: agearhar@umich.edu.
5
Division of Health Policy and Management, University of Minnesota School of Public Health, 420 Delaware Street SE, MMC #729, Minneapolis, MN 55455, United States. Electronic address: sgollust@umn.edu.
6
Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, 423 Guardian Drive, Philadelphia, PA 09104-4865, United States. Electronic address: croberto@mail.med.upenn.edu.

Abstract

INTRODUCTION:

There is a growing body of evidence suggesting that certain foods may be addictive. Although evidence that nicotine is addictive generated support for anti-tobacco policies, little research has examined whether beliefs about the addictiveness of food are associated with support for policies to address overconsumption of nutritionally poor foods.

METHODS:

U.S. adults (n=999) recruited from an online marketplace in February 2015 completed a survey. Using logistic regression, we examined the relationship between beliefs about the addictiveness of certain foods and support for twelve obesity-related policies while controlling for demographics, health status, political affiliation and ideology, beliefs about obesity, and attitudes towards food companies. We examined whether the association between beliefs about addictiveness and support for policies was consistent across other products and behaviors viewed as addictive (i.e., tobacco, alcohol, drugs, compulsive behaviors).

RESULTS:

In multivariable models, there was a significant association (OR; 95% CI) between beliefs about addictiveness and support for policies for compulsive behaviors (1.48; 1.26-1.74), certain foods (1.32; 1.14-1.53), drugs (1.23; 1.05-1.45), and alcohol (1.21; 1.08-1.36) but not for tobacco (1.11; 0.90-1.37). For foods, the association between beliefs about addictiveness and obesity-related policy support was the strongest between such beliefs and support for labels warning that certain foods may be addictive, industry reductions in salt and sugar, energy drink bans, and sugary drink portion size limits.

CONCLUSIONS:

Overall, believing that products/behaviors are addictive was associated with support for policies intended to curb their use. If certain foods are found to be addictive, framing them as such may increase obesity-related policy support.

KEYWORDS:

Food addiction; Obesity; Policy; Public opinion

PMID:
27311333
DOI:
10.1016/j.ypmed.2016.06.018
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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