Making Snacking Less Sinful: (Counter-)Moralizing Obesity in the Public Discourse Differentially Affects Food Choices of Individuals with High and Low Perceived Body Mass.
Sommaire de l'article
Abstract Objective. As public discourse surrounding obesity highlights the societal costs of obesity and individual's own responsibility for their weight, being overweight is often framed as immoral. Such "moralizing" messages about being overweight may be a psychological threat for those with high body mass. Attempting to counter-moralize the public discourse (i.e. actively arguing that there is nothing "immoral" about being overweight) may relieve this threat, inducing people, especially those with higher (perceived) weight, to engage in healthier behaviours. Method. Two experiments were performed among Dutch and US participants. (Counter-) moralization was manipulated. Body mass and weight-related self-perceptions were measured. The dependent variable was healthy versus unhealthy snack choice. Results. (Counter-) moralization and (perceived) overweight jointly predicted snack choice: counter-moralizing messages induced healthy snacking, but only among those who regarded themselves to have a high body mass. Conclusions. The effects of moralizing versus counter-moralizing obesity depended on one's (perceived) overweight. This suggests that, for people with relatively high weight, the current moralizing public discourse on obesity works in counterproductive ways. Campaigns that "counter-moralize" obesity (i.e., that refute moralizing messages) are more productive, although they should be tailored to those who see themselves as being overweight.