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Appetite. 2014 Jun;77:77-82. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2014.03.004. Epub 2014 Mar 14.

Food addiction as a causal model of obesity. Effects on stigma, blame, and perceived psychopathology.

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Psychology Department, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, HI, USA. Electronic address:
The Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA.
Psychology Department, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, HI, USA.
Behavioural Studies, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia.


The present study examined the impact of the food-addiction model of obesity on weight stigma directed at obese people. Participants (nā€‰=ā€‰625) were randomly assigned to four experimental conditions. They were asked to read either a food-addiction explanatory model of obesity or a nonaddiction model, and subsequently read a vignette describing a target person who met the characteristics of one of these models and was either obese or of normal weight. Questionnaires assessed participants' stigmatization and blame of targets and their attribution of psychopathology toward targets. Additional questionnaires assessed stigma and blame directed toward obese people generally, and personal fear of fat. A manipulation check revealed that the food-addiction experimental condition did significantly increase belief in the food-addiction model. Significant main effects for addiction showed that the food-addiction model produced less stigma, less blame, and lower perceived psychopathology attributed to the target described in vignettes, regardless of the target's weight. The food-addiction model also produced less blame toward obese people in general and less fear of fat. The present findings suggest that presenting obesity as an addiction does not increase weight bias and could even be helpful in reducing the widespread prejudice against obese people.


Food addiction; Obesity; Stigma; Weight bias; Weight controllability beliefs

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