Obesity is not a choice or a lack of willpower

Obesity is “not a choice” and is not down to a lack of willpower, psychology experts have said.

Tuesday, 24th September 2019, 9:53 pm
Updated Tuesday, 24th September 2019, 10:53 pm
A new report from the British Psychological Society calls for changes in how obesity is regarded

A new report from the British Psychological Society calls for changes in how obesity is regarded, with less reference to “obese people” and more discussion of “people with obesity” or “people living with obesity”. And it said the Government should approach the problem of obesity in the same way it did smoking.

Experts behind the study argue that people become overweight or obese as a result of a complex combination of factors, including genetics, responses to stress from childhood, sedentary lifestyles and only poor food choices being on offer. They said: “Obesity is not simply down to an individual’s lack of willpower. The people who are most likely to be an unhealthy weight are those who have a high genetic risk of developing obesity and whose lives are also shaped by work, school and social environments that promote overeating and inactivity.

“People who live in deprived areas often experience high levels of stress, including major life challenges and trauma, often their neighbourhoods offer few opportunities and incentives for physical activity and options for accessing affordable healthy food are limited.

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“Psychological experiences also play a big role - up to half of adults attending specialist obesity services have experienced childhood adversity.”

While the British Psychological Society does not support classing obesity as a disease, it said it remains “important to avoid language and explanations that locate the ‘problem’ of obesity within individuals.”