Volume 32, Issue 1 p. 57-68
Research Report
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Obesity and Responsiveness to Food Marketing Before and After Bariatric Surgery

Yann Cornil

Yann Cornil

University of British Columbia

Contributed equally.

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Hilke Plassmann

Hilke Plassmann

INSEAD

Sorbonne Université

Contributed equally.

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Judith Aron-Wisnewsky

Judith Aron-Wisnewsky

Sorbonne Université

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Christine Poitou-Bernert

Christine Poitou-Bernert

Sorbonne Université

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Karine Clément

Karine Clément

Sorbonne Université

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Michèle Chabert

Michèle Chabert

EPHE, PSL

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Pierre Chandon

Corresponding Author

Pierre Chandon

INSEAD

Contributed equally.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Pierre Chandon, INSEAD, 77300 Fontainebleau, France. Electronic mail may be sent to [email protected].

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First published: 23 January 2021
Citations: 15
Accepted by Priya Raghubir, Editor; Associate Editor, Lauren Block

PC and KC conceived the project, and YC, PC, and HP designed this study. JAW and KC coordinated the clinical investigation (MICROBARIA). JAW, CP, KC, and MC contributed to the recruitment of participants with obesity involved in the bariatric surgery program; HP coordinated the data collection with the support of MC. YC and PC analyzed the data; YC, PC, and HP wrote the first draft of the manuscript, and all authors contributed to the final text. The authors thank Liane Schmidt, Amélie Lachat, Beth Pavlicek, Huong Ngo, Julia Behrend, Flavie Laroque, Nicolas Manoharan, Quentin André, Sana Atik, Sébastien Robin, Valérie Godefroy, Valentine Lemoine, and Florence Marchelli for assistance. Funding: Microbaria AOM10285/P100111 to KC, ANR-10-IAHU, ICAN, and F-CRIN FORCE Network, Sorbonne University 2013, 2014 grants to PC and HP, and INSEAD to PC and HP. The experiments reported in this article were not formally preregistered. The anonymized data according to European data laws and the materials have been made available on Open Science Framework: data and analyses scripts (https://osf.io/qpcfj/?view_only=344c16fa4481418ea2f30c582d04e908); materials of overall protocol (https://osf.io/pgxvh/?view_only=c5aec66ceb4d42bc8a4fb5283f473794). For the study reported in this manuscript, all dependent variables or measures that were analyzed for this article’s target research question, all levels of all independent variables, and all manipulations have been reported in the Method section or Appendix  S1. No observation was excluded. The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Abstract

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: (a) a group of patients with obesity before, 3 months, and 12 months after bariatric surgery, (b) a control group of lean women, and (c) 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.