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Nutrients 2014, 6(11), 5312-5326; doi:10.3390/nu6115312

Food Addiction and Its Impact on Weight-Based Stigma and the Treatment of Obese Individuals in the U.S. and Australia

1
School of Population Health, the University of Queensland, Herston, QLD 4029, Australia
2
Centre for Youth Substance Abuse, the University of Queensland, Herston, QLD 4029, Australia
3
Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society, Faculty of Health Sciences, La Trobe University, Melbourne, VIC 3000, Australia
4
UQ Centre for Clinical Research, the University of Queensland, Herston, QLD 4029, Australia
5
School of Psychological Sciences, Monash University, Melbourne, VIC 3181, Australia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 15 August 2014 / Revised: 2 October 2014 / Accepted: 9 October 2014 / Published: 21 November 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Food Addiction)
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Abstract

It is argued that food addiction explanations of obesity may reduce the significant stigma levelled at obese and overweight individuals. We surveyed 479 adults to determine the prevalence of food addiction in the U.S. (n = 215) and, for the first time, in Australia (n = 264) using the Yale Food Addiction Scale (YFAS). We also assessed the level of weight-based stigma in this population. The prevalence of food addiction in our Australian sample was 11%, similar to U.S. participants and consistent with previous studies. Those who met criteria for diagnosis had a larger mean BMI (33.8 kg/m2) than those who did not (26.5 kg/m2). Overall, the level of stigma towards others was low and differed significantly based on BMI, predominately among normal weight and obese participants (p = 0.0036). Obese individuals scored higher on certain measures of stigma, possibly reflecting individual experiences of stigma rather than negative attitudes towards other obese individuals (p = 0.0091). Despite significant support for a “food addiction” explanation of obesity, participants still valued personal responsibility in overcoming obesity and did not support coercive approaches to treat their “addiction”. View Full-Text
Keywords: addiction; attitudes; obesity; stigma; responsibility addiction; attitudes; obesity; stigma; responsibility
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Lee, N.M.; Hall, W.D.; Lucke, J.; Forlini, C.; Carter, A. Food Addiction and Its Impact on Weight-Based Stigma and the Treatment of Obese Individuals in the U.S. and Australia. Nutrients 2014, 6, 5312-5326.

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