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BPS welcomes obesity initiatives but urges focus on root causes underpinned by psychology

28 July 2020

The Government must ensure they focus on the root causes of obesity, including stigma, poverty and inequality and use psychology to help tackle the problem, says the British Psychological Society (BPS). 

The BPS welcomes the move from the Government to introduce a 9pm watershed on junk food advertising, and a ban on buy one get one free promotions for unhealthy foods, however for interventions to have real impact they must look to understand all the causes of obesity - biological, psychological and social, – and use approaches to behaviour change for prevention and weight management that are informed by psychology.

These are all recommendations made in our 2019 Psychological Perspectives on Obesity Report.

Our Obesity Report detailed the complex nature of obesity and how psychology plays a key role in tackling the problem. It is not enough for the government to simply say ‘people need to show more willpower’.

It is vital every initiative aimed at promoting a healthy weight is informed by psychological evidence and weight management services are best delivered by multidisciplinary teams that include psychologists.

Last week, we co-signed a letter to the government with a number of other organisations, including the Royal Society for Public Health and Cancer Research UK, calling for the 9pm watershed on advertising and a ‘systematic approach which fundamentally tackles inequality, and particularly poverty.’

Sarb Bajwa, Chief Executive of the BPS, said:

“The Government has acknowledged the threat of obesity to the health of the nation and we welcome these announcements.

What is crucial to their success is to understand the wide range of factors that influence obesity and the decisions that people take.

There must be a focus on the root causes including poverty. Psychologists have the science and clinical experience to help the health service do the same for obesity.”

We are also seeking members to work with us to review our 2019 obesity recommendations.

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