Title

Promoting Public Health In The Context Of The “Obesity Epidemic”: False Starts And Promising New Directions

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

11-1-2015

Published In

Perspectives On Psychological Science

Abstract

In the battle to combat obesity rates in the United States, several misconceptions have dominated policy initiatives. We address those misconceptions, including the notion that restrictive diets lead to long-term weight loss, that stigmatizing obesity is an effective strategy for promoting weight reduction, and that weight and physical health should be considered synonymous with one another. In offering correctives to each of these points, we draw on psychological science to suggest new policies that could be enacted at both the local and national levels. Instead of policies that rely solely on individual willpower, which is susceptible to failure, we recommend those that make use of environmental changes to reduce the amount of willpower necessary to achieve healthy behavior. Ultimately, the most effective policies will promote health rather than any arbitrary level of weight.

Keywords

obesity, dieting, weight stigma, policy