Obesity is 'not a choice', top psychologists say

The report calls for an end to "fat shaming", saying stigma only adds to the problem

Risk factors to developing heart disease include obesity and smoking . AP
Risk factors to developing heart disease include obesity and smoking . AP

Obesity is not a choice and should not be treated as one, top psychologists have said in a new report.

The study by the British Psychological Society (BPS) concludes that obesity is “not simply down to an individual’s lack of willpower” and that making people feel ashamed about their weight will only result in them feeling worse about themselves.

Health professionals should be trained to be more supportive when talking to people about weight loss, the report says, calling for an end to stigma around obesity.

The report recommends that there should be changes in language, such as describing someone as a “person with obesity” rather than an “obese person”.

Psychologists say that a rise in obesity levels in far more complicated than laziness. "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," it says.

"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."

Eating habits are also shaped by experiences in our childhood, with many obese adults reporting difficulties in their early years.

According to the report, “fat shaming” from peers, public health campaigns or GPs can actually lead to further weight gain, leading to increased eating from further stress.

Comedian and presenter James Cordon recently spoke out against fat shaming on America’s The Late Late Show, saying: “If making fun of fat people made them lose weight, there'd be no fat kids in schools and I'd have a six pack by now."

Published: September 25, 2019 11:26 AM

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