The Link Between Emotions and Obesity: According To Studies

Link Between Emotions Obesity

However, a person with love handles, and the one with a slender figure and more muscles may have the same weight. 

From a psychological perspective, it is not the weight that is upsetting people but the difference between their actual figure and the “perfect” figure image in their minds i.e weight stigma. 

Related: Ultimate Calorie Portion You Must Take For Weight Loss

weight stigma and obesity
Weight stigma and health effects

How do emotions stop you from preventing weight gain?

Well, there is a bulk of literature available on the scientific process of weight gain. There are people who easily put on weight and their bodies also display resistance in using the accumulated fat, according to Dr. Luis Chiozza

The doctor investigated whether fat serves as a calorie or energy reserve and found various unconscious factors or fantasies playing a role in obesity. 

According to him, fat accumulation is an adaptive response. 

1. We reserve fat thinking that tough times may come and it can be used as a backup. This fantasy of long term reserves is similar to what most migratory birds do. They increase the amount of fat before embarking on a long journey to prevent energy exhaustion. A similar phenomenon exists for humans as well. 

2. Self-sufficiency is another unconscious factor that stimulates fat accumulation. It means being independent and to survive without needing anything from anyone. 

3. And the last fantasy is getting out of ideal body shape (perceptions like being thin means you are sick), which motivates people to accumulate fat and gain weight. 

Related: How To Turn Your Painful Emotions Into Superpowers

Obesity and defense mechanism

According to Doctor Chiozza, obesity is a kind of defense mechanism emerging due to unconscious conflict related to a feeling of incompetence.

You are accumulating fat to reserve yourself for an action that you don’t ultimately undertake out of fear of not being able to do it right. Overweight people are increasing in number to compensate for the feeling of defenselessness. 

No doubt it is hard to feel incompetent and obesity is the best defense. When it comes to obesity, the physical risk of being overweight is always there. And there is a psychological risk that is not fitting society’s idea of a perfect or beautiful figure.  These are two different things and normally coexist. This highlights how emotions and obesity are associated.

According to Chiozza, there is a need for proper evaluation and to understand a person’s emotions and motivational level. That can help determine if an obese or overweight person can follow a specific diet and exercise guidelines because they are the main regulators of weight.

Self-regulation, emotions and obesity 

There is also intense research conducted on the relationship between emotions, obesity, and emotional regulation. According to a study, poor self-regulation skills in the early years were predictive of being overweight in early childhood. 

According to the article titled – Importance of emotional regulation in obesity and weight loss treatment – various theories have emerged explaining the relationship between emotions and intake of food in three major perspectives.

The impact of food-related behaviours and emotional functioning on body mass index in an adult sample
Source: (Czepczor-Bernat and Brytek-Matera 2020)
  • Negative self-awareness 

According to this theory, a person engages in binge eating to escape from negative self-awareness or ego threatening information. 

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