The Psychology of Obesity

Various experts will be presenting their understanding of the current obesity epidemic at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association. Issues such as why so many are so obese; with as many as 17% of teens being obese as well as the psychology of obesity will be examined.

The Psychology of Obesity

Why people are eating more

Paul Rozin of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, who has studied food consumption for the past 3 decades, says that the reason why we are fatter today than at any point in history before now is that we are eating more.

But why are we eating more? Are some foods really addictive? And are more of us predisposed to obesity than before? And if obesity is now more resistant to treatment, why is this so?

According to Kelly Brownell, director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity at Yale University we are surrounded by food and food advertising all the time. We have become accustomed to larger portions, eating all the time, even late at night and in the car – basically all boundaries governing food have disappeared. The marketing and advertizing of food is widely regarded as being a culprit.

Too little sleep and older maternal ages are also being cited as possible reasons that contribute to obesity.

Then there is the fact that like attracts like and we tend to see that overweight people marry overweight people and possibly produce overweight offspring.

Other reasons why we are overweight

Technological developments of recent times may also be responsible in a way, goes another theory. With so many demands made on our brain by our demanding lifestyle, we are probably suffering from “cognitive overload”. This in turn could be eroding our self control, making us eat more.

According to Barbara Rolls, of Penn State University there is such a wide variety of foods that are available to us today that this is also what encourages us to keep eating. It is something that the “buffet effect’’. If we were to eating one thing only, we would soon tire of it and therefore stop eating it. But if there are several other things that we can also try out, we will continue eating – so we keep finding other food that is appealing and hence keep eating.

Then there is the issue of food addiction – is it possible to become addicted to food in the same way that we can be addicted to alcohol and drugs? Sugar, salt and fat are seen to trigger and addictive response.