Psychological explanations for obesity

Restraint theory

Explains obesity as occurring through people attempting to lose weight by placing self-imposed target on food intake + then indulging in reduced eating to meet target. However, in 80% cases     -> overeating, weight increase + obesity. Debate as to why occurs. 

One POV is self-imposed target often unrealistic + attempting to diet in this way, lowers mood + increases hunger + motivation to eat more. Another POV - type of people likely to attempt restrained eating those w/ less self-control, more likely to display disinhibited eating - more vulnerable to becoming obese.

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Disinhibited eating concerns overeating, eating too quickly + repeated lack of success w/ dieting. Linked to having high BMI + obesity. Occurs when have opps to consume desirable foods + when under emotional distress. Often shows by anxiety-prone individuals, often those w/ poor impersonal attachments - rely more on external factors eg food, for emotional control.

Overall, disinhibtion is tendency to seek emotional comfort through overeating, -> increase in weight + ultimately obesity.

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Boundary model

Herman + Polivy (1984) - proposes hunger motivates to intake food about set min level + satiety motivates to keep intake below set max level.

Distances between levels set by psych factors, w/ dieters having large range between hunger + satiety level as takes longer to feel hungry + need more food to reach satiety b/c physiological set point boundary overrides self-imposed cognitive boundary -> overeatng, w/ such individuals being at increased risk of being obese.

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Explanations for success of dieting

When succeed, generally due to combination of strategies - helps lose weight in realistic + attainable manner, maintain loss over extended period. One mean of accomplishing - relapse prevention. Achieving stable energy balance around new lower weight. Involves learning to identify situations where 'lapses' could occur + how to 're-focus' so don't return to eating behaviours from before.

Motivation + confidence help determine success. OC used in form of rewards acting as pos reinforcement. Use of social networking useful - family + friends, support. Weight Watchers - social suppoer. SLT also used, provides successful role models for dieters to observe. 

Process dependent on setting achievable targets for amount of weight loss + time period. Chances of success maximised by not setting over-specific goals + goal-setting process should consist of series of ST goals leading up to LT goal. To avoid setting unrealistic goals

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Explanations of failure of dieting

Most fail b/c unsustainable, prime factor lack of knowledge + skills necessary to diet sensibly. Set unrealistic targets, expect to lose weiht quickly - not realistic. Motivation declines, regain weight, more demotivating.

More restrictive, more likely to fail - low calorie diet, unpleasant side effects, loss of motivation, abandonment of diet.

Bio role - ghrelin, stimulates appetite, hungry people even hungrier when dieting, increases chances of abandoning diet.

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Restraint theory - Strengths

Herman + Polivy - dieters reported couldn't be bothered to keep dieting, too much effort, suggests cognitive shift in thinking - breakdown of self-control in line w/ boundary model.

Disinhibition major factor in weight gain -> obesity b/c oh high daily number eating opps found in Western cultures.

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Restraint theory - Weaknesses

 Lowe + Kral - among restrained eaters, over-representation of people w/ tendency for lack of self-control + disinhibited eating.

Theory can't explain minority of dieters who succeed through restrained eating - anorexics.

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Success/failure - Strengths

Miller-Kovach et al reported social support methods offered by Weight Watchers superior to individual dieting regimes over 2 years.

Williams et al - found those lacking concentration unsuccessful dieters, lose focus on targets + strategies - indicates cognitive factors.

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Success/failure - Weaknesses

Individual diffs can contribute to success rates - high restrainers hyper-sensitive to food cues, likely to abandon diets.

Gender biased, focuses mainly on females, can't be generalised to males.

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