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Ethical, Stigma, and Policy Implications of Food Addiction: A Scoping Review

Department of Psychology, Ryerson University, 350 Victoria St., Toronto, ON M5B 2K3, Canada
Centre for Mental Health, University Health Network, Network - Toronto General Hospital, 200 Elizabeth Street, 8th Floor, Toronto, ON M5G 2C4, Canada
Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto, 250 College Street, Toronto, ON M5T 1R8, Canada
University of Toronto Joint Centre of Bioethics, 155 College Street, Suite 754, Toronto, ON M5T 1P8, Canada
Bioethics Program and Krembil Brain Institute, Toronto Western Hospital, University Health Network, 399 Bathurst Street, Toronto, ON M5T 1P8, Canada
Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, 155 College Street, 6th Floor, Toronto, ON M5T 1R8, Canada
Bariatric Surgery Program, University Health Network - Toronto Western Hospital, 399 Bathurst Street, East Wing – 4th Floor, Toronto, ON M5T 2S8, Canada
Department of Education, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, 33 Russell Street, Toronto, ON M5S 2S1, Canada
School of Psychological Sciences, Monash University, Melbourne, VIC 3181, Australia
UQ Centre for Clinical Research, University of Queensland, Herston, QLD 4029, Australia
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Nutrients 2019, 11(4), 710;
Received: 1 February 2019 / Revised: 8 March 2019 / Accepted: 20 March 2019 / Published: 27 March 2019
The concept of food addiction has generated much controversy. In comparison to research examining the construct of food addiction and its validity, relatively little research has examined the broader implications of food addiction. The purpose of the current scoping review was to examine the potential ethical, stigma, and health policy implications of food addiction. Major themes were identified in the literature, and extensive overlap was identified between several of the themes. Ethics sub-themes related primarily to individual responsibility and included: (i) personal control, will power, and choice; and (ii) blame and weight bias. Stigma sub-themes included: (i) the impact on self-stigma and stigma from others, (ii) the differential impact of substance use disorder versus behavioral addiction on stigma, and (iii) the additive stigma of addiction plus obesity and/or eating disorder. Policy implications were broadly derived from comparisons to the tobacco industry and focused on addictive foods as opposed to food addiction. This scoping review underscored the need for increased awareness of food addiction and the role of the food industry, empirical research to identify specific hyperpalatable food substances, and policy interventions that are not simply extrapolated from tobacco. View Full-Text
Keywords: ethics; food addiction; health policy; stigma ethics; food addiction; health policy; stigma
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MDPI and ACS Style

Cassin, S.E.; Buchman, D.Z.; Leung, S.E.; Kantarovich, K.; Hawa, A.; Carter, A.; Sockalingam, S. Ethical, Stigma, and Policy Implications of Food Addiction: A Scoping Review. Nutrients 2019, 11, 710.

AMA Style

Cassin SE, Buchman DZ, Leung SE, Kantarovich K, Hawa A, Carter A, Sockalingam S. Ethical, Stigma, and Policy Implications of Food Addiction: A Scoping Review. Nutrients. 2019; 11(4):710.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Cassin, Stephanie E., Daniel Z. Buchman, Samantha E. Leung, Karin Kantarovich, Aceel Hawa, Adrian Carter, and Sanjeev Sockalingam. 2019. "Ethical, Stigma, and Policy Implications of Food Addiction: A Scoping Review" Nutrients 11, no. 4: 710.

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