Obesity and Responsiveness to Food Marketing Before and After Bariatric Surgery
Forthcoming, Journal of Consumer Psychology
41 Pages Posted: 20 Jan 2021 Last revised: 1 Mar 2021
Date Written: January 20, 2021
Although food marketing is often accused of increasing population obesity, the relationship between individual responsiveness to marketing and obesity has yet to be established: Are people with obesity more responsive to food marketing and, if so, is it a stable trait or can it be reversed by bariatric surgery? We studied the responses to three common marketing tactics that frame foods and portions as healthier than they really are in three groups of women: 1) a group of patients with obesity before, three months, and twelve months after bariatric surgery, 2) a control group of lean women, and 3) another control group of women with obesity but not seeking any treatment for their obesity. People with obesity were initially more responsive to food marketing, but bariatric surgery reduced their responsiveness down to the level of lean people. In addition to documenting another potential psychological consequence of bariatric surgery, our study suggests that the higher responsiveness of people with obesity is not a stable individual predisposition and supports the notion of a reciprocal relationship between obesity and sensitivity to environmental influences.
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