Believing that certain foods are addictive is associated with support for obesity-related public policies

Alyssa Moran, Aviva Musicus, Jackie Soo, Ashley N. Gearhardt, Sarah E. Gollust, Christina A. Roberto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Introduction There is a growing body of evidence suggesting that certain foods may be addictive. Although evidence that nicotine is addictive generated support for anti-tobacco policies, little research has examined whether beliefs about the addictiveness of food are associated with support for policies to address overconsumption of nutritionally poor foods. Methods U.S. adults (n = 999) recruited from an online marketplace in February 2015 completed a survey. Using logistic regression, we examined the relationship between beliefs about the addictiveness of certain foods and support for twelve obesity-related policies while controlling for demographics, health status, political affiliation and ideology, beliefs about obesity, and attitudes towards food companies. We examined whether the association between beliefs about addictiveness and support for policies was consistent across other products and behaviors viewed as addictive (i.e., tobacco, alcohol, drugs, compulsive behaviors). Results In multivariable models, there was a significant association (OR; 95% CI) between beliefs about addictiveness and support for policies for compulsive behaviors (1.48; 1.26–1.74), certain foods (1.32; 1.14–1.53), drugs (1.23; 1.05–1.45), and alcohol (1.21; 1.08–1.36) but not for tobacco (1.11; 0.90–1.37). For foods, the association between beliefs about addictiveness and obesity-related policy support was the strongest between such beliefs and support for labels warning that certain foods may be addictive, industry reductions in salt and sugar, energy drink bans, and sugary drink portion size limits. Conclusions Overall, believing that products/behaviors are addictive was associated with support for policies intended to curb their use. If certain foods are found to be addictive, framing them as such may increase obesity-related policy support.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)39-46
Number of pages8
JournalPreventive Medicine
Volume90
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Food addiction
  • Obesity
  • Policy
  • Public opinion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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