Psychological factors may explain why some people develop obesity and others remain a normal weight during their life course. We use an umbrella review approach to build an evidence-based map of the psychological correlates of heavier body weight. Synthesising findings from 42 meta-analyses that have examined associations between psychological factors and heavier body weight, we assessed level of evidence for a range of cognitive, psychosocial and mental health individual difference factors. There is convincing evidence that impaired mental health is associated with heavier body weight and highly suggestive evidence that numerous cognitive factors are associated with heavier body weight. However, the relatively low methodological quality of meta-analyses resulted in lower evidential certainty for most psychosocial factors. Psychological correlates of heavier body weight tended to be small in statistical size and on average, people with obesity were likely to be more psychologically similar than different to people with normal weight. We consider implications for understanding the development of heavier body weight and identifying effective public health interventions to reduce obesity.
Copyright © 2020. Published by Elsevier Ltd.