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A qualitative study of overweight and obese Australians’ views of food addiction

09 / 05 / 17

The concept of food addiction is increasingly cited but there is limited evidence on how the term is understood by the overweight or obese and this qualitative study from Monash University (Victoria, Australia) aimed to find out. Semi-structured interviews with 23 overweight/obese individuals were analysed for themes.

The concept of food addiction was consistent with many participants’ personal experiences, with some specifically believing in sugar or fat addiction. This was accompanied by high perceptions of control and personal responsibility. Food addiction was seen as a motivator for seeking psychological services but not drugs or surgery. Related to their belief in food addiction, participants supported targeted public health policies (taxes, regulation) but didn’t believe these would affect their own purchasing or consumption. Participants also supported food labelling education and cheaper healthy foods to help change their eating behaviour.

Cullen AJ, Barnett A, Komesaroff PA et al. A qualitative study of overweight and obese Australians’ views of food addiction. Appetite 2017 Feb 10. pii: S0195-6663(17)30207-6.