Overweight or obesity is a behavioral problem

If the title of this article is a question, many overweight people will answer no, but more and more experts and researchers are convinced that the fight against obesity must be conducted through behavioral change. For many people, fat and cozy go together, but more and more obese people have a different opinion about this. They are very dissatisfied with their body weight and some are also ashamed of it.

Obesity due to impulsive behavior

Currently, it is mainly researchers from Maastricht University who argue that obesity is mainly a behavioral problem. They believe that learning to think differently about food reduces the risk of becoming overweight and returning to the old eating pattern after a weight-loss period. Obese people are generally impulsive. Reducing impulsive behavior could yield important gains in the fight against obesity. But it appears to be difficult for obese people to control themselves.

Don’t know the number of calories

An obese person is usually unable to achieve a balance in energy expenditure. Only a few people with a very slow metabolism or abnormal fat burning will become fat faster than someone else for this reason. A large number of people who think they also have this ailment unknowingly eat far too much. Tests have shown that obese people who diet eat more than slim people who do not diet, and the obese appear to have no idea how many calories they are consuming.

Feeling of shame and poor self-esteem in obesity

Obese people are very sensitive to immediate rewards and have less attention to the consequences. Eating excessively when there is tasty and plenty of food available can be considered a quick reward. Their feelings about being overweight sometimes lead to overeating. Addressing feelings of shame and poor self-esteem, which cause negative mood problems, could be done through behavior change therapies.

Obesity is not a recognized psychological problem

Until now, potential care providers have mainly been dietitians and doctors who have dealt with obesity, with psychologists remaining aside. However, behavioral therapists, as care providers, could teach obese people to change their behavioral patterns and thinking patterns and they have numerous techniques at their disposal to bring about behavioral change in obesity as well. But obesity is currently not recognized as a psychological problem, which makes this method of providing care not so simple.

Eating more due to environmental factors and habits

Eating behavior can also be related to the environment. A well-known saying goes: Seeing food makes you eat. Environmental factors can play a role, such as seeing table companions eating a lot. In such a case, the eyes are listened to more than the stomach and whether or not you are hungry plays less of a role. Large portions also encourage you to eat longer, even though the feeling of hunger may already have disappeared. Habit is often more important than feelings of hunger or taste. In certain cultures it is customary to eat popcorn during a movie visit, for example. Research by the American University of South California has shown that taste is of secondary importance because even old and tough popcorn was simply eaten. Watching a movie in the cinema and eating popcorn apparently go together.

Through recognition of a behavioral problem to behavioral change

Becoming aware of all these effects is the first step towards behavioral change by eating less and stopping when you feel full. Greater awareness of eating behavior and breaking fixed eating habits creates more attention for the food itself, which opens up possibilities in the fight against obesity. But not only good intentions and willpower are enough to change unhealthy eating behavior. Trying to break away from the environment often also plays a major role. For example, avoid a number of dishes at an extensive buffet and find a seat next to someone who is known not to overeat. Don’t take the largest size plate to serve and reject the dessert menu if the waitress brings it after dinner.

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