People Seem More Accepting of Food Addiction Than Other Vices

But obese people are less likely to be given a pass on their eating habit, research shows

FRIDAY, Feb. 8 (HealthDay News) -- Having an addiction can be stigmatizing, but new research suggests that having a food addiction may be viewed less negatively by others than an addiction to tobacco or alcohol.

For people who are obese, however, being a food addict can increase the stigma already associated with their weight situation, according to the researchers at Yale University's Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, in New Haven, Conn.

For the study, the investigators asked more than 1,200 adults about their feelings toward people with different types of addictions. They found that food addiction was less likely to trigger a negative response than other addictions.

Compared to people with an alcohol or tobacco addiction, those with a food addiction were perceived as more likeable, easier to relate to and were viewed with less anger and disgust. People with a food addiction were less likely to be blamed for their problem than those with an alcohol or tobacco addiction, the study authors noted.

The participants expressed more irritation, anger and disgust about food addiction if the person was obese, however. This suggests that the "food addict" label could increase the blame placed on obese people for being overweight, the researchers said.

The findings were published online Feb. 4 in the journal Basic and Applied Social Psychology.

"Our findings offer preliminary insights into how food addiction is perceived among other health conditions and how it affects public attitudes toward obesity," Rebecca Puhl, the Rudd Center's director for research and weight stigma initiatives, said in a Yale news release.

More information

BrainFacts.org has more about obesity and food addiction.

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