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Med Clin North Am. 1989 Jan;73(1):47-66.

Psychological features of obesity.

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Department of Psychology, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut.


The study of obesity from a variety of psychological perspectives has been exciting and inventive, although we still do not understand fully the role of psychological variables in the etiology of obesity. Many of the factors thought to be of etiologic significance--field dependence, lack of impulse control, inability to delay gratification, or a maladaptive eating style--have not been supported by experimental evidence. Other factors once thought to be of importance as causes of obesity, depression and dysphoria, for example, appear, instead, to be consequences of being obese and may serve to maintain and intensify weight-related problems. Dieting behavior in response to weight concerns appears, perversely, to be implicated in increasing overweight and adiposity. Finally, arousability in response to food cues in the environment may play a causal role in some obesities.

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