Obesity and psychology

Published on November 30, 2015   26 min

Other Talks in the Series: Obesity: Science, Medicine and Society

Please wait while the transcript is being prepared...
My name is Dr. Samantha Scholtz. I am a consultant liaison psychiatrist, and I work in the Imperial Weight Centre in Saint Mary's Hospital seeing patients before and after bariatric surgery. I'm going to be speaking today about obesity and the interaction between obesity and psychology and the psychiatry field.
Obesity has reached epidemic proportions in the UK.
Approximately 25 percent of the population falls within the obese category and 66 percent falls within the overweight category.
The foresight report from 2009 commissioned by the Department of Health showed that by 2050 should there be no change in the current trends, we would expect that approximately 60 percent of the population would fall within the obese category. What this tells me is not so much that there is a problem with obesity on an individual level, but that as a society we are living within an obesogenic environment which is creating a problem of obesity on an individual level.
I would like to make the statement that I think that there is no psychology of severe obesity. What we see instead are severe psychological consequences from obesity and resulting stigmatization of patients who have obesity. There are however some eating behaviors and personality traits associated with obesity, but it is difficult to determine whether these are cause or effect.
There is a strong interaction between serious mental illness and obesity.
Patients with serious mental illness, for instance, like schizophrenia or bipolar affective disorder have much higher rates of obesity than the average population. Approximately 50 to 60 percent of women with serious mental illness will be suffering of obesity. The association with obesity and depression is bidirectional. By this I mean that patients with obesity are more likely to suffer with depression. But it may also be that some aspects of depression leads to increased obesity. We know that if patients with serious mental illness have obesity that they're more likely to die from their physical ill health than from mental health causes. Therefore, the consequences of obesity in patients with serious mental illness are quite severe.