What is obesity?


The World Health Organisation has defined obesity as being a BMI of greater than 30 (lb/inch2 / kg/m2), and with the introduction of the cafeteria diet, obesity is ever increasing.


Obesity is not currently included as a disorder in DSM-5, yet research argues it should be under the label of ‘food addiction’.  


There is evidence to suggest genetic factors for obesity, with studies showing that cells infected with adenovirus-36 transformed into adipocytes (fat cells), whereas cells not infected with adenovirus-36 did not. There is also evidence to suggest psychobiological factors that affect obesity, with non-obese patients having increased level of activity in prefrontal-cortex (one of the areas of the brain involved in self-control) when blood glucose level gets too high, this is not present in obese patients, suggesting they may have impulse control issues. Additionally, there are also emotional factors affecting obesity, with those who are obese being more emotionally reactive to negative emotions.


There are multiple treatments for obesity: ranging from jaw wiring and stomach stapling (physical treatments), to ‘health at every size training’ (HAES) (psychological treatments).


Key Definitions:

The Cafeteria Diet: is the wide variety of incredibly appetizing, energy dense foods that are common in Western society

HAES: training is a treatment of anxiety not aimed at reducing one’s size, but at enhancing body acceptance, raising awareness of internal cues and nutrition information

Food addiction: the compulsive consumption of food and the inability to restrain from eating, regardless of how much one wants to.


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