Psychology of obesity

First of all, it is fundamental to recognize that obesity is caused by too much food and too little movement, with no exceptions. While some drugs or diseases can make one “swell up” this is only water-retention which can be remedied within days. You can consume food and keep slim but it is impossible to be fasting and still gain weight.

We are slaves to our instincts. A smitten teenager won’t ever be convinced that a celebrity that is the object of the feeling won’t ever become a real-life mate. A man in love sees only the best of characteristics in the object of love and to a mother her child will always be the most beautiful, smartest and ahead of the rest. Eating is one of our instincts, too. For innumerable generations our ancestors had to eat while they could as food was never a certainty. If you did not eat you simply starved to death. This instinct helped us to survive as a species but is now killing us. In some of us, it overrides common sense and we deceive ourselves that everything is OK while stuffing our bodies.

Dietitians and personal trainers are another side of the coin – usually armed with iron-will or feeble appetite. For them, this is a no brainier – eat less, exercise more. They won’t ever understand the power of instinct of overweight people. They cannot fathom that their statement is as useless as pointing another girl to a boy in love, saying that she’s equally pretty. Some people literally love food and all love is blind. If the brain wants something it will have its way, eventually. If breaking a habit was so easy, there would be no addictions in the world – simply, stop smoking, stop drinking… It is no different for people with weight issue – the object that attracts them is different to the rest of the society. However, gluttony is criticized by chain smokers, the ones procrastinating studying and people addicted to shopping.

Surely, determination and drive is very important – we indeed became needy and soft as a society. Democracy and nanny state teach us helplessness and institutionalize us. In my childhood, it was normal for a young child to spend the time outdoors, out int the fields and meadows and none was concerned about the age limit. None died. These days, six year old spend their days indoor and it doesn’t get better. You are bullied at school? Call the media. You are broke? Vote for a party who will rob Peter to pay Paul. Sure, solutions to protect the weak are valid but on the other hand they also don’t help them to become stronger. There was a fad in the news about “wild children” – a girl brought up by dogs or a man cooped up with the chickens for his entire childhood. These stories highlight how important early years are – lack of contact with other humans, no learning opportunities at such stage cause irrevocable damage. The wild children did not learn how to walk correctly, let alone social skills, and it stays true for the rest of their life. They’ll never learn not only how to talk and interact with other human beings, they’ll be unable to walk! I can only wonder what damage can an overprotective parent cause, stifling the child’s development while stuffing it with treats in order to achieve a desired behavior? This is a ready-made recipe for disaster – for such person, self-gratification with sweets will be a second nature, just like verbal skills or walking up-straight.

There was a trial once on a cohort of obese people who claimed that there is something simply wrong with their bodies. They fasted, exercised but still gained weight. Suspecting many diseases, they went to doctors and took thyroid medicaments but nothing would help. Their dieting journals showed that they certainly do not exceed 2000 kcal per day and that they train regularly. Nothing happened though. When this law-of-physics-defying phenomenon was scientifically tested, the result was – as suspected – super-simple. The subjects only recorded about 50% of the consumed calories while increasing the amount of exercise: on paper (for some reason, women were in much deeper denial than men). “Secret Eaters” TV show is a great example – although participants were convinced that they gain weight for no reason, careful scrutiny of television cameras showed the naked truth: all of them consumed more that 4000 kcal a day and all of them were in denial. To those of you who are slim and smirking now: remember the time when you tried to quit smoking or when you were last in love…

Can a childhood-programmed person be somehow fixed? I have no answer but I suspect that this would mean a herculean effort of self-improvement and a complete personality makeover. Surely, though, it is worth trying – not only for your looks as the effects of childhood imprinting have influence other aspects of the life, too.