The Complex Interplay of Psychological Factors in Childhood Obesity

Pages 9 (2515 words)
Views 34

Understanding the Complex Factors Behind Obesity

Obesity is defined as a metabolic condition whereby excess fat is deposited under tissues, and it can be caused by an amalgamation of psychological, ecological, and/or medical factors. This medical disorder is among the visible but ignored public health complications. This is likely to have health complications such as cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, and type2diabetes which affect people regardless of age, gender, or socio-economic group. This research intends to examine obesity as a psychological disorder. Other factors that lead to the occurrence of obesity are also discussed.

The development of obesity was associated with factors such as the consumption of foods that are dense in fats, carbohydrates and low physical activity. The research established that the occurrence of obesity among school kids is very high, and therefore, there is a need for planning effective interventions to reduce obesity among school kids and maintain healthy lifestyles. Puhl&Heuer (2009) argue that currently, people are facing different psychological issues. This could be a result of the environment they coexist or other factors. Psychological issues are varied, but in the world, there are those that are common among many counties, including the United States.

Use original sources only.
Order your custom essay on
The Complex Interplay of Psychological Factors in Childhood Obesity
Get Custom Essay

Psychological disorder is an emotional dysfunction in an individual and is normally associated with a state of distress or impairment that can be viewed as a cultural misfit in society. In this paper, obesity, as a psychological disorder/issue, is explained. Obesity/metabolic syndrome is a health condition where individuals have excess body fat accumulation to levels that are disastrous to one’s normal body functioning and may lead to other complications such as heart conditions, depression, and diabetes, among other conditions and diseases in the body. It was classified as a disease by the American Medical Association amid controversy.

Normally, Body mass index (BMI) is the most basic indicator used to determine if a person has normal or abnormal weight. In this case, a person’s weight is divided by the height’s square. Persons in the range of 25kg/m2 -30kg/m2 are considered to be obese(Puhl&Heuer, 2009). Other ways to measure obesity are waist-to-hip ratio, waist circumference, and bioelectrical impedance. In the world today, people with obesity are many compared to those with underweight, and this phenomenon is dependent on the age of an individual. The rates increase as a person ages as well.

In the US, the rates of obesity have been rising steadily since 1960, and it has now been one of the leading health issues that have annually led to an estimated close to 130,000 deaths. This is a worrying trend across the globe. According to James & Leach &Kalamara&Shayeghi (2001), personality can be termed as a vibrant organization within those psychophysical systems that govern their individualities, behavior, and thoughts. Genetics has greatly influenced the impact of obesity on children born to obese parents.

However, it can be deduced that obesity is not a preset condition, but chances are high because parents can greatly influence their eating habits, and how they feed their children might increase the chances of activating hormones that can predispose their children to that condition. Genetic components increase susceptibility to weight gain. Some processed foodstuff that is designed to help people quench their hunger instantly could also raise their chances of being obese.

These foods are meant to last longer on the shelves and are relatively cheap, and have a sweet taste. This will make people gain instant energy and therefore gain weight due to high sugar levels. According to Puhl& Brownell(2001), high-sugar and high-fat junk foods are likely to stimulate the reward center of one’s brain. Junk foods are really addictive to individuals, and these people easily fail to control their eating behavior. This leads to the huge consumption of junk foods. In return, these people are constantly gaining weight leading to obesity. Some marketing agencies use tactics that are unethical to drive up the uptake of their products.

Some of their products sometimes might not be healthy products. These marketing agencies also make or imply assertions that might be misleading. Some of these products target children who have no information about the effects and hence lack informed decisions on these products that they consume. In return, they gain weight due to a certain level of consumption. Medical prescriptions can also promote weight gain. This is common, where it reduces the number of calories burned in the body. Some medications can also increase the level of appetite in the body leading to too much consumption of food.

The body has leptin hormone, which is also known as a starvation hormone. This plays a vital role in controlling appetite levels. It is normally produced by fat cells. Leptin levels tend to be high in people with obesity. This will constantly give them an appetite for food. On the other hand, in healthy people, high leptin levels are linked to reduced appetite hence reduced consumption of foods. The availability of food has also influenced obesity levels in the world. Junk food is getting constant display and marketing. Food shops have displayed tempting foods in order to capture attention. This junk food is always cheaper and unhealthy. People living in poor neighborhoods can’t afford expensive healthy foods and hence resort to the consumption of these foods(Wolf &Colditz,1998).

Personality Theories and Societal Influences on Obesity

Additionally, lack of proper and accurate information, especially on feeding, can be dangerous to human health. This is evident in people who lack a good guide on what and when to consume. They are likely to abuse food, and in return, they get punished. Incorrect information on nutrition can lead to unhealthy eating habits and poor health in general. News outlets such as blog posts should never distort or misinterpret or depend on outdated outcomes of logical studies.

According to Freud’s Theory, personality is dependent on a number of factors that range from instinctual drives such as food, aggression, sex, and unconscious processes. Early childhood influences more so from the folks. Personality development relies on the chemistry of predisposition at the onset of life. Parental conduct is crucial to abnormal and normal development. Some of the parenting practices at birth can play a vital role in a child’s personality even as they grow old. It is evident that some traits are carried on in the life cycle of an individual.

The parental upbringing of children can also facilitate or increase the chances of it being transferred from generation to generation (Puhl& Brownell,2001). Allport’s theory of personality underlines the exclusivity of a person and their inner motivational processes and cognitive. These processes are important in an impetus in behavioral growth. This could be skills or habits (Puhl&Heuer,2009). He later concluded that personality is a biological process and is determined when one is born, but it is molded by the immediate environment where one exists. So if an individual is given a poor environment or that environment that is not considered as good in the development of their personality, they are likely to have a personality that is negative.

Children who are born into a family that has experienced obese, they are likely to acquire the condition as well. Cattell argued that personality cannot be fully and satisfactorily understood by considering only two or three scopes of behavior. He advocated for consideration of a couple of behaviors for one to completely create a clear perspective of someone’s personality. So, for instance, you cannot exhaustively use one trait that is evident in a person to completely tell about their personality.

Cattell based his research on a number of sources in order to explain personality exhaustively. Through this, he was able to draw a distinction between inborn and surface characteristics. Surface traits can be effortlessly identifiable, whilst source traits cannot be noted so easily. They are likely to trigger a number of different traits of behavior. He concluded that source traits are key in determining a personality compared to surface traits.

Just like any source trait, obesity cannot be explained by what other people see, but it has a hidden character that compels individuals to exhibit this phenomenon. Eysenck came up with a theory in an attempt to give more information on personality, and some of the research he conducted aided his theory. His argument was based on biological factors and how they are key in shaping a personality of an individual. He holds that individuals are able to inherit some form of nervous structures that affect their ability to appreciate new concepts and acclimatize to environments(Puhl&Heuer, 2009). In his position at Maudsley psychiatric hospital in the UK, he was able to interact with patients receiving handling for neurotic disorders. He learned that the answers the soldiers were giving were almost linked up. He referred to this as first-order personality traits.

Later he discovered that their conduct could be represented by two scopes; extroversion, introversion, and stability or neuroticism. Extroversion occurs when individuals are bored and excited easily. They are careless but optimistic, whilst introversion is where people known as introverts are not so active and are always pessimistic. He called these second-order personality traits. All these traits can be linked to some biological causes, and personality can be attained if one has a balance between self-consciousness and excitation of the automatic nervous system (Wolf &Colditz, 1998). Social classes play a vital role in the general well-being of people. People in the developed world found that high social class was less likely to be obese.

In this case, the US and Japan being developed countries, those in high social classes are less likely to be obsessed compared to Those that are placed lowly in society. In the emerging world, women, men, and children from great social classes are observed to have greater instances of obesity (Wolf &Colditz, 1998). This is due to the fact that in developed countries, it is believed that the wealthy can afford nutritious food and they keep watch on their weight, whilst those in developing countries are pressured by economic and other factors to consume any food and have less time to do exercises. When one is stressed causes, the brain releases a hormone called cortisol which increases a person’s appetite. This will make a person find consolation in food as stress bites on.

Societal Attitudes, Cultural Perceptions, and Supporting Individuals with Obesity

Stress has the tendency to influence food liking. In most cases, foods that are rich in fat and sugar are preferred as a quick fix. These foods hinder brain activity that is involved in the processing of stress and anxiety. Stress has also led to a loss of sleep (Puhl&Heuer, 2009). The brain is always preoccupied. This will make people add weight, and if not checked on time, they end up being obese. In the US and China, people tend to eat more when they face stress. According to Wolf &Colditz(1998), when people listen or pay attention to external motivation, they tend to ignore internal urges. So if people are provided with food or see it on display, they might not necessarily feel the hunger; they will consume it. In this case, the availability of food did give them the urge to eat. This is a common practice.

This might be the case in America and Japan. The US has a higher rate of obese cases compared to Japan. This lower rate of obesity may be because the Japanese are much more physically active than Americans. Although, it cannot be proved whether the Japanese are more actively engaged with gym work compared to Americans more than Americans. On the other hand, most Japanese prefer walking, unlike Americans, who prefer using their vehicles to walk.

Walking is considered a worthy exercise that helps cut extra fats in the body(Puhl&Heuer, 2009). Food in Japan is more expensive compared to food in the United States. People in Japan are likely to consume less food because of its cost compared to Americans, who have food at a relatively low price. Therefore Japanese have less food to consume; hence they are able to keep a slim body figure, unlike Americans, who will have all the food they want at a relatively low price. Thus, low rates of obesity in Japan compared to America(Puhl&Heuer, 2009). In some countries, what is considered abnormal and unhealthy contains an evident cultural component.

For instance, in the United States of America, obesity is considered an element that is normal in one’s life; no one is to be compromised based on this, unlike in other countries where this is considered a real life-threatening illness that has to be treated(Wolf &Colditz, 1998). Obesity from childhood may lead to the rise of stern health problems, such as high blood pressure, hormonal disparities, and adult cardiovascular complications.

It is never easy for care providers and families to have no clear option for handling childhood obesity. Other kids are born having difficulties and possibly severe outcomes. However, families and care providers are advised to help reduce weight, and it is suggested that medical practitioners and families attempt to reduce weight by observing home-based cures before the treatment of medications. Family-oriented treatment alternatives are treatment and lifestyle changes for the whole family(Wolf &Colditz, 1998). Communities have different perceptions about obese people, and judgments placed on these people that are affected by obesity.

Some people consider extra fat as a way of storing extra energy. Obese individuals are theorized to be metabolically ‘thrifty, thus saving energy in periods of plenty of food. The outcomes indicate that body sizes are viewed to replicate personality traits. In return, this increases the possibility as well as energy storage and social selection might have a role in shaping obesity’s biology(Puhl&Heuer, 2009). Just like any medical condition, obesity should be considered a medical condition. People suffering from this condition need our love and support in managing this condition.

Some mockery and look down upon will make these people feel less part of us. They may end up contemplating suicide(Puhl&Heuer, 2009). In conclusion, obesity is one of the medical conditions that the world has not come to terms too. Some see it as a normal condition that is a result of a lifestyle or bad eating habits: however, people eat. Health providers should ensure proper information is available to the public in order to facilitate proper family upbringing. However, people should be advised on how best to maintain a good lifestyle and proper diet, and also observe regular exercise can also help reduce or cut the extra fat in the body.


1.Puhl, R. M., & Heuer, C. A. (2009). The stigma of obesity: A review and update. Obesity, 17(5), 941-964.

2.James, W. P. T., Leach, R., Kalamara, E., & Shayeghi, M. (2001). The worldwide obesity epidemic. Obesity Research, 9(S11), 228S-233S.

3.Puhl, R. M., & Brownell, K. D. (2001). Bias, discrimination, and obesity. Obesity Research, 9(12), 788-805.

4.Wolf, A. M., & Colditz, G. A. (1998). Current estimates of the economic cost of obesity in the United States. Obesity Research, 6(2), 97-106.

Cite this page

The Complex Interplay of Psychological Factors in Childhood Obesity. (2023, Aug 18). Retrieved from

Remember! It's just a sample.
Our professional writers will write a unique paper for you.
Get Custom Essay
Hi! I’m smart assistant Ed!
I can help you calculate how much your paper would cost