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Fat Addiction: Psychological and Physiological Trajectory
Open AccessArticle

The Effect of a Food Addiction Explanation Model for Weight Control and Obesity on Weight Stigma

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School of Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Monash University, Melbourne 3800, Australia
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Department of Human Development and Family Sciences, Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT 06269, USA
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Department of Psychology, College of Social Sciences, University of Hawaii, Manoa, HI 96822, USA
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Department of Psychology, Faculty of Science and Technology University of Lancaster, Lancaster LA1 4YW, UK
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Division of Sciences, Department of Psychology, University of Otago, Dunedin 9016, New Zealand
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Curriculum & Pedagogy, Faculty of Education, Monash University, Melbourne 3800, Australia
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School of Psychology, Faculty of Medicine, Nursing, and Health Sciences, Monash University, Melbourne 3800, Australia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Nutrients 2020, 12(2), 294; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12020294
Received: 27 September 2019 / Revised: 15 December 2019 / Accepted: 7 January 2020 / Published: 22 January 2020
There is increasing scientific and public support for the notion that some foods may be addictive, and that poor weight control and obesity may, for some people, stem from having a food addiction. However, it remains unclear how a food addiction model (FAM) explanation for obesity and weight control will affect weight stigma. In two experiments (N = 530 and N = 690), we tested the effect of a food addiction explanation for obesity and weight control on weight stigma. In Experiment 1, participants who received a FAM explanation for weight control and obesity reported lower weight stigma scores (e.g., less dislike of ‘fat people’, and lower personal willpower blame) than those receiving an explanation emphasizing diet and exercise (F(4,525) = 7.675, p = 0.006; and F(4,525) = 5.393, p = 0.021, respectively). In Experiment 2, there was a significant group difference for the dislike of ‘fat people’ stigma measure (F(5,684) = 5.157, p = 0.006), but not for personal willpower weight stigma (F(5,684) = 0.217, p = 0.81). Participants receiving the diet and exercise explanation had greater dislike of ‘fat people’ than those in the FAM explanation and control group (p values < 0.05), with no difference between the FAM and control groups (p > 0.05). The FAM explanation for weight control and obesity did not increase weight stigma and resulted in lower stigma than the diet and exercise explanation that attributes obesity to personal control. The results highlight the importance of health messaging about the causes of obesity and the need for communications that do not exacerbate weight stigma. View Full-Text
Keywords: stigma; obesity; food addiction; weight bias; weight stigma; obesity prejudice reduction stigma; obesity; food addiction; weight bias; weight stigma; obesity prejudice reduction
MDPI and ACS Style

O’Brien, K.S.; Puhl, R.M.; Latner, J.D.; Lynott, D.; Reid, J.D.; Vakhitova, Z.; Hunter, J.A.; Scarf, D.; Jeanes, R.; Bouguettaya, A.; Carter, A. The Effect of a Food Addiction Explanation Model for Weight Control and Obesity on Weight Stigma. Nutrients 2020, 12, 294.

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