Cases of obesity are increasing at an alarming rate and there are a lot of researches going on to find out the factors that have a direct relation with it. A team of researchers at the Ohio State University have identified two unrelated by strong predictors of obesity. First is low self-esteem about one's weight and the other is keeping food visible available outside the kitchen in the house.
This study at the Ohio State University revolved around finding out if the architectural features of the house and food availability have any link with obesity; they also measured a number of psychological factors. The study revealed that architectural features had nothing to do with relationship to obesity status, however, several food-related findings did. It is published in the International Journal of Obesity.
Both obese and non-obese people participated in the study. It was seen that obese people kept more food visible throughout the house and typically ate more of unhealthy food like fried foods, sweets, etc., as compared to their non-obese counterparts. It was also seen that both groups spend about the same amount of money on food, ate similar amounts of total calories. However, non-obese participants spent less on fast food than obese individuals.
Charles Emery, professor of psychology at Ohio State and lead author of the study said that the amount of food in the homes was similar, but obese individuals spread the food throughout the house. They created an environment where food was easily visible and it became harder to avoid food. Such a finding has not been documented before.
It was also reported in the study that obese individuals have lower self-esteem about their bodies and they also exhibit signs of depression. In the earlier studies effects of home environment and psychological factors have not been examined together before. It is important to focus of self-esteem in adult weight-loss programs. Only when adults feel good about themselves will they be motivated to implement behavioral changes.
Through this study the predictors of obesity are identified but it doesn't mean that they are the causes of the weight issues. Emery opined that they have tried to create a detailed picture of the home environment obese people live in. However, no one can say with surety whether obesity led to the environment or vice versa.
For this study 100 participants between the age of 20 and 78 were recruited by the research team. Half of them were not obese and the rest of them were obese with an average BMI of 36.80. A 2 house home visit was conducted by the researchers they interviewed them about food consumption, assessed the layout and food storage in the homes and got self-report psychological questionnaires done by the participants. 2 weeks later they followed them up to evaluate their food purchases and physical activity.
Emery pointed out that in the study, obese participants reported they were less able to avoid eating – whether they were hungry or not. This reflects a greater preoccupation with food. If food is something you’re thinking about a lot, it potentially becomes a source of stress. One can’t just stop eating, but can definitely change the way you eat and change the way you think about eating.
Emery noted that while multiple metabolic and genetic factors contribute to obesity, but the home is a logical place to consider in efforts to improve health. He said that home environment is crucial since that’s where most people spend a majority of their time. Home is the place to start to help people establish healthier habits and behaviors.
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