While society has certainly become much more accepting of people who are bigger-bodied, a lot of misconceptions about their plight still persists. That’s why the British Psychological Society (BPS) has made it a mission to make people understand the complex health and societal issue that is obesity better.
The non-profit group did just that with the release of a new report explaining the possible roots of the problem and suggests better ways to tackle it.
Not a Choice
For one, BPS emphasizes that obesity is not a choice and how problematic it is to simply blame the individual for their condition. While the organization doesn’t support the classification of the condition as a disease as what the World Health Organization (WHO) did, it still pushes for the betterment in the treatment of and conversation about obese people.
According to the 60,000-strong group, obesity is more than just a result of an individual’s lack of willpower to eat right contrary to the persisting stereotypes. Though obesity is often caused by a person’s behavior, these behaviors aren’t always that individual’s choice.
For example, there are people who naturally have a high genetic risk that makes them more likely to become obese. Paired with a particular kind of unhealthy environment and lack of access to healthy yet affordable foods, these factors can set up people to tip the scales.
The United Kingdom-based group also pointed towards the important role that psychological experiences play in shaping a person’s formed habits which may later on cause them to be obese. In fact, the report has discovered that almost half of the adults who avail of specialist obesity services cite having gone through some kind of adversity during their childhood.
This adversity then may have led them to feel more vulnerable and thus, compensate with ‘emotional eating’.
What more, the report has found a significant increase in obesity rates not just in England but also in Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland. According to psychologist Angel Chater, also a co-author of the report, this suggests that obesity is not just simply caused by the lack of motivation of the four nation’s residents.
Tackling the Issue
Considering all these, Chater said that addressing the issue of obesity and weight management should be informed by psychology. Meanwhile, BPS chief executive Sarb Bajwa suggests that the government deal with the issue at hand in the same way they do with smoking.
As Bajwa pointed out, the efforts involved not just individual smokers but also government policy and were waged over several decades.