"Food addiction is real". The effects of exposure to this message on self-diagnosed food addiction and eating behaviour

Charlotte A. Hardman*, Peter J. Rogers, Rebecca Dallas, Jade Scott, Helen K. Ruddock, Eric Robinson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


Food addiction is widely discussed in popular media in many Westernised societies. However, a potential concern is that endorsement of the food addiction model may cause people to perceive a lack of personal control over eating which could promote unhealthy dietary behaviours. To address this possibility, the current study investigated whether exposure to food addiction messages would, firstly, increase the number of participants who self-diagnosed as food addicts and, secondly, increase intake of indulgent foods. In a between-subjects design, participants (N = 60) read an article which either claimed that food addiction is real ("Real" condition) or that food addiction is a myth ("Myth" condition). Intake of indulgent and non-indulgent foods was then assessed in a disguised taste test and participants also completed a measure of self-diagnosed food addiction. A significantly higher proportion of participants in the Real condition self-diagnosed as food addicts relative to participants in the Myth condition (57% and 27% of participants, respectively; p =018). Variability in intake, but not mean intake, of indulgent food was higher in the Real condition than in the Myth condition. These findings suggest that endorsement of the concept of food addiction may encourage people to self-diagnose as food addicts and thus explain their eating behaviour in terms of addiction (an external attribution). The extent to which self-diagnosis of food addiction influences actual food intake and how this might vary with individual differences and eating context remains to be determined.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)179-184
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 16 Apr 2015

Structured keywords

  • Brain and Behaviour
  • Nutrition and Behaviour


  • Addiction
  • Attribution
  • Beliefs
  • Food intake
  • Self-control


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