Blogging At The Intersection Of Psych and Pop Culture

If obesity is a disease, is labeling it that way the cure?


My final guest post at the BPS Research Digest went up on Friday, covering recent work by psychologists Crystal Hoyt, Jeni Burnette, and Lisa Auster-Gussman on the motivational implications of formally classifying obesity as a "disease," as the American Medical Association did in July 2013.

The good news is that the AMA is right to celebrate the benefits that it has already touted; labeling obesity as a disease, in the experimental group, did lead obese participants to report higher levels of self-esteem and body satisfaction. The bad news, however, is that this decision might have serious consequences for the public health goal of actually reducing the obesity rate. In both studies, obese participants opted for sandwiches with significantly more calories when they received the “obesity-is-a-disease” message than when they received either the standard information-based message or the “obesity-isn’t-a-disease” message.

For the rest of this post, head over to the BPS Research Digest!


The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

Share this Article:


You must sign in or register as a member to submit a comment.

Email this Article