While BPS does not support the classification of obesity as a disease, as the World Health Organisation does, it stresses the importance of avoiding “language and explanations that locate the ‘problem’ of obesity within individuals”.
The report explains that obesity is more complex than a person’s lack of willpower, as the negative stereotypes suggest.
“Whilst obesity is caused by behaviour, those behaviours do not always involve ‘choice’ or ‘personal responsibility’,” the report explains.
“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 BPS also points out that those living in deprived areas may be more susceptible to obesity because they might have less access to affordable healthy food options.
Additionally, those living with major life challenges and traumas might have less incentive to be physically active.
“Psychological experiences also play a big role,” the report continues.
“Up to half of adults attending specialist obesity services have experienced childhood adversity.”
The report touches on “emotional eating” and says that those who diet frequently may be more inclined to overeat when they are feeling particularly vulnerable.