People who need obesity treatment tend to think their weight problems are caused by a number of behavioural factors rather than their genes, a new study has found.
Research involving 20 obese men and 52 obese women found that more than 70 per cent realised that their obesity was due to a lack of exercise and overeating.
Some patients said that these behaviours were due to psychological characteristics, such as an addictive personality or family problems.
Generally, however, obese people did not tend to blame their weight on their genetic make-up.
Amy Brogan, a researcher at Trinity College Dublin whose findings were presented at the British Psychological Society's annual conference, said: "Our study has shown that obese people are aware of the causes of their weight problems and see their obesity as stemming from a complex array of issues, rather than a single factor."
Ms Brogan noted that the ways in which people attribute their weight problems tend to influence how much weight they manage to lose during obesity treatment.
"The challenge now for professionals is to understand how this complex representation can be used to help individuals lose the weight and adopt a healthier lifestyle," she concluded.