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26 Sep 2019

Psychology experts in the United Kingdom are calling for changes in the way society regards obesity, saying the condition is not a choice or due to a lack of willpower.

A recently-released British Psychological Society report also suggests the term “obese people” should not be used, but instead “people living with obesity” or “people with obesity” should be the references.

"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,” the report states.

“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.

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

The Society has called on the UK Government to approach the issue of obesity in the same way it did smoking.

It does not, however, support describing obesity as a disease, as the World Health Organisation does.

“Whilst obesity is caused by behaviour, those behaviours do not always involve ‘choice’ or ‘personal responsibility’,” the report said.

Obesity levels in England increased by 18 per cent between 2005 and 2017, with similar increases recorded in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.



Published: 26 Sep 2019