Though most people believe food is as addictive as some drugs can be, they also think the best treatment for obesity is self-control.
“While participants believed food addiction to be a cause of obesity, this did not change their attitudes towards obese people or the most effective way of treating obesity,” says Natalia Lee, University of Queensland’s School of Population Health graduate student.
The study, published in PLOS ONE, used an online survey to assess public attitudes toward obesity and gauge opinions on the causes and risk factors of obesity. “This finding alone has important implications for the treatment of obesity and policy responses alike.”
The public supported the view that some foods could be addictive, but this did not translate into support for medical treatments of obesity, notes Adrian Carter, a research fellow from the university’s Centre for Clinical Research. “Public health policies which experts believe will most likely reduce rates of obesity, such as regulation of food advertising and increased taxes, were also not supported by most participants.”
“Participants viewed obesity as a condition that individuals had to overcome through personal choice and willpower.”
Scientists hope that recognition of obesity as a form of food addiction may improve obesity treatment and foster greater public acceptance of health policies. The study show a need for further investigation to explain the inconsistency between support for food addiction and a strong emphasis on weight being a personal choice.
Source: University of Queensland