Concern over rising obesity levels in Western nations is reflected in recent governmental interest in policy-level initiatives to tackle this. The present study aimed to enhance our understanding of how people respond to policies that are introduced to influence their behavior by exploring the association between people's support for policy and beliefs surrounding its efficacy and their motivation toward controlling their own weight. The study used the framework of self-determination theory to explore the association between policy- and individual-level effects. Data were collected from 188 U.K. participants (42% male, 95% white, 50% overweight, and 74% actively trying to control their weight). Measures included beliefs regarding obesity causality and severity, perceived societal pressure to be thin, support for obesity-related policies, motivation for weight loss behaviors, and objectively measured weight. Levels of support were similar for overweight and nonoverweight participants. The majority of people (75.5%) actively supported obesity-related polices, and reported significantly greater support for redistributive and compensatory policies (76.6% in both cases) than for price raising policies (43.6%). Policy support was predicted by perceived societal pressure to be thin (R² = .09). Greater support for obesity-related policies significantly predicted controlled, but not autonomous, motivation toward weight loss behaviors (R² = 0.14). The findings suggest that while obesity-related policy intervention in the U.K. is largely considered legitimate it does not promote autonomous, and by implication lasting, motivation for individuals to engage in weight control behaviors.
Collison (Emm-Collison), L., Gillison, F., & Juszczyk, D. (2013). Support for obesity-related policy and its association with motivation for weight control. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 19(3), 321-330. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0033305