Food addiction and its impact on weight-based stigma and the treatment of obese individuals in the U.S. and Australia.
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".
Lee, NM; Hall, WD; Lucke, J; Forlini, C; Carter, A
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