Weight issues can be linked to emotions.
Weight issues can be linked to emotions.

Tackling weight gain at an emotional level

THE causes of weight gain are wide and varying, but the core of the issue usually comes down to one thing.

"As far as I can see, the core is always self-worth," Greenway Cottage mental health social worker Jodie Johnson said.

Ms Johnson said a lot of the time it came down to the fact that people were trying to fill an emotional void.


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"They're not sure what's going on so they eat and feel better for a little while, and then feel bad again," she said.

"Comfort eating, negative self-talk and low self-esteem - all these things add up to people gaining weight generally."

Soberingly, she said women or men who have been sexually abused in the past often put on weight subconsciously because they felt safer in a bigger body that's not sexualized.

"In a way they're not even aware that they feel safer when they're big," she said.

"Often one of the really underlying causes is their trauma history and their abuse history.

"The other thing with eating is control. When people have control or anxiety issues it can come out in overeating."

So to make a health change stick, the attitude has to change as well.

Ms Johnson said there were a number of stages that people went through in deciding to make a lifestyle change, and proper intervention strategies could help people move to the next stage of change.

"What I do is get people to identify where they are at, and then work out how to help them move on to the next stage," she said.

"We plan to meet people where they're at."

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