Pointing to Addictive Junk Food

Does Addictive Junk Food Explain Obesity?

Why are we living with so much obesity? If you ask the public, this question has different answers in different cultures. New data, being presented today at the Canadian Obesity Summit in Banff, suggests that addictive junk food is an especially popular explanation for the problem – especially with Brazilians and French Canadians.

Different Beliefs in Brazil, Canada, the U.S,, and Mexico

ConscienHealth founder Ted Kyle is presenting data from a study sponsored by the Obesity Action Coalition and made possible by a grant from Novo Nordisk. For today’s presentation, Kyle and his collaborators examined public opinions from five different cultures in North and South America. He explains:

The idea that addictive junk food is causing obesity resonates in just about every culture we’ve studied. But it’s especially strong among Brazilians and French Canadians. Americans are more neutral about it.

Less Blaming by Brazilians and French Canadians

Other research has shown that viewing food addiction as the cause of obesity might have implications for blame and stigma. And consistent with that idea, the research released today found less belief in blaming people with obesity among Brazilians and French Canadians. In Brazil, people especially seem to reject the idea that obesity is a moral failure.

At the end of the day, the causes of obesity are much more complex. The popular cartoon of addictive junk food doesn’t fully explain those causes. But it’s a model for understanding obesity that speaks loudly in some cultures.

Click here for the study abstract and here for the slides.

Pointing to Addictive Junk Food, photograph © Kai Morgener / flickr

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April 26, 2017