Food Addiction and Its Potential Links with Weight Stigma


Purpose of Review

Weight stigma and discrimination are significant issues facing people who are overweight. There is growing acceptance that obesity is caused by a neurobiologically driven addiction to some foods. This review examines the evidence that obesity is due to a food addiction and the impact that this may have on attitudes towards excess weight.

Recent Findings

There is limited evidence that food addiction explanations may reduce external stigma and self-blame. However, these positives may come at the expense of adverse impacts on overweight person’s self-efficacy and eating. The “addict” label may also further exacerbate weight stigma.


Current research on the impact of food addiction explanations on stigma is scarce and inconsistent. There is almost no research examining the clinical impact of food addiction on self-efficacy, eating, or treatment seeking. More research clarifying these issues is essential given the growing acceptance of “food addiction” explanations in society.

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Dr. Puhl reports research funding from Weight Watchers, Inc., outside the submitted work.

Dr. Carter reports grants from the National Health and Medical Research Council during the conduct of the study.

Dr. Hardman reports grants from American Beverage Association, personal fees from International Sweeteners Association, outside the submitted work.

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Correspondence to Adrian Carter.

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Reid, J., O’Brien, K.S., Puhl, R. et al. Food Addiction and Its Potential Links with Weight Stigma. Curr Addict Rep 5, 192–201 (2018).

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  • Food addiction
  • Obesity
  • Stigma
  • Weight bias
  • Discrimination
  • Self-efficacy