Following my research from blog post 1, I decided to focus more specifically on the mental health side of obesity. I have found 2 academic articles that venture further into this topic.
Article 1: If shaming reduced obesity, there would be no fat people
The article is written by Traci Mann and Janet Tomiyama. The main points covered in this article include:
- Daniel Callahan’s proposal plan to reduce obesity is to use strong social pressure – even if it crosses the line into outright discrimination – to teach people that being overweight and obese is “not socially acceptable”, and “to make just about everyone strongly want to avoid being overweight and obese.”
- Callahan believes that overweight and obese people do not find anything problematic or even notice their weight.
- His only evidence for this lack of awareness comes from a Gallup survey. Only 39 per cent of the sample described themselves as very or somewhat overweight, when in actual fact 62 per cent of the sample was actually overweight or obese.
- The discrepancy between being overweight and describing oneself as overweight may simply be due to people being reluctant to describe themselves as overweight – this explanation is consistent with the view that obesity is stigmatised.
Article 2: Expressive suppression of emotions and overeating in individuals with overweight and obesity
The article is written by Mirja Gianna Gorlach, Sebastian Kohlmann, Meike Shedden-Mora, Winfried Rief and Stefan Westermann. The authors were motivated to write this article as they were interested to see the association between emotional suppression and overeating in people who are overweight. The main points discussed in this article include:
- There is research that underlines the crucial role of emotional processes for overeating. More specifically, it is argued that negative emotions can trigger eating behaviours.
- The authors assumed that emotional eating is a learned behaviour strategy that helps deal with negative emotions and stress through eating behaviours, which leads to overweight and obesity. In turn, development of a more functional regulation of emotions may be a key factor for reducing overeating and the amount of obese individuals.
- A study was conducted to determine important factors of emotion regulation related to overeating. Therefore, they also wanted to investigate the influence of expressive suppression on overeating for people with a high BMI, and whether BMI had a effect on the relationship between expressive suppression and overeating.
- The study was in the form of an online questionnaire, posted to subjects recruited from social media platforms and internet forums in relation to psychological and physical health. The subjects were evaluated by 5 categories, Obesity, Expressive suppression, Overeating, Depression and anxiety, and Statistical analyses.
- Results showed that expressive suppression has a strong association with overeating in obese people. The effect of BMI on the link between expressive suppression and overeating was found. By teaching patients to utilise adaptive emotion regulation strategies, it could be beneficial for therapy with obese patients.
From these academic articles, I found it interesting to see the associations of how the pressure from society to be healthy and fit can have a negative impact on overweight and obese people, which can influence overweight and obese people to overeat due to the fact that it helps them reduce negative emotions and stress. However, from the study conducted in Article 2, there is a possible way to reduce overeating and treat obesity, which is by teaching obese people to be aware of strategies that they can use to regulate their emotions. Although, this would have to be assessed further with more research.
Mann, T. & Tomiyama, J., 2013, ‘If shaming reduced obesity, there would be no fat people’, The Hastings Center Report, vol. 43, viewed 10 August 2016,
Gorlach, M., Kohlmann, S., Shedden-Mora, M., Rief, W. & Westermann, S. 2016, ‘Expressive suppression of emotions and overeating in individuals with overweight and obesity’, European Eating Disorders Review, vol. 24, viewed 29 August 2016,