Internalized weight stigma and the progression of food addiction over time

Angela Meadows*, Suzanne Higgs

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
204 Downloads (Pure)


Food addiction is associated with elevated levels of eating pathology, body image concerns, and internalized weight stigma. The role of internalized weight stigma in the progression of addictive-like eating has not been explored. This longitudinal study explored the relative contributions of weight-related self-devaluation and fear of being stigmatized by others in predicting changes in addictive-like eating behavior over time. 305 young adults (Mage = 18.7 years, SD = 1.1, range 18–28, MBMI = 21.9 kg/m2, SD =3.7 kg/m2, range 13.7–38.9 kg/m2) completed online measures of “food addiction,” weight-related self-devaluation, and fear of stigma from others at two time points (follow-up M = 280 days, SD = 30, range 155–474). At baseline, 7.9 % exhibited clinically relevant addictive-like eating behavior, 40.3 % self-classified as being “addicted to food”, and 51.8 % neither. Using cross-lagged modelling, fear of being stigmatized, but not self-devaluation, was a predictor of worsening “food addiction” status over time. Fear of weight stigma, rather than weight-related self-devaluation per se, may be an important predictor of problematic eating behavior. As weight stigma is prevalent in Western populations, these findings have potential implications for the development of problem eating behaviors in non-clinical samples.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-71
Number of pages5
JournalBody Image
Early online date7 Jun 2020
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2020


  • Body image
  • Eating behavior
  • Food addiction
  • Longitudinal study
  • Social stigma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychology(all)


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