The Psychology of Obesity

Ashley Moskovich, Jeffrey Hunger and Traci Mann

in The Oxford Handbook of the Social Science of Obesity

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199736362
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

The Psychology of Obesity

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  • Health, Education, and Welfare



This chapter provides a discussion on the psychology of obesity. Four major individual factors have been explored as causes of overeating: interoceptive awareness, response to emotional experience, cognition, and biology. Current research is examining how underlying differences in neurobiology guide eating behavior. The past 50 years of research on the psychological causes of obesity have helped to isolate many important predictive factors and to clarify that obesity results from a variety of intra- and inter-individual factors. The factors that may be consequences of obesity are explained, such as stigmatization, discrimination, mental health problems, and physical health problems. Research on exercise interventions indicate positive health benefits, even in the absence of weight loss. It is clear that the mental health consequences of obesity should not take a back seat to treatments aimed solely at the physical health consequences.

Keywords: obesity; overeating; interoceptive awareness; cognition; neurobiology; stigmatization; discrimination; mental health; physical health; exercise

Article.  8200 words. 

Subjects: Economics ; Health, Education, and Welfare

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