Locus of control and obesity.

Frontiers in endocrinology. 2014;5:159
Full text from:

Plain language summary

Obesity is a multifactorial disease, which makes it a complicated issue to address. In particular psychology and a concept know as locus of control plays a huge role. Locus of control refers to an individual’s ability to acknowledge that their environment and choices are under their control. However, whether this is a cause of obesity or mutually occurring is unclear. This review of 49 papers aimed to determine the relationship between obesity and locus of control. The authors discussed that the majority of literature agrees on a correlation between locus of control and obesity, however it is not straight forward as there is no set definition for locus of control. Whether locus of control causes obesity or obesity causes locus of control was also difficult to determine, but it was stated that locus of control is difficult to change. The mechanisms behind causation were discussed and stress hormones and hormones which make you feel full or hungry were implicated. It was concluded that there is a correlation between locus of control and obesity, however which one is causal, still needs more research. This paper could be used by healthcare practitioners to understand the important role that psychology plays in the development of obesity.


In the developed world, the hazards associated with obesity have largely outstripped the risk of starvation. Obesity remains a difficult public health issue to address, due in large part to the many disciplines involved. A full understanding requires knowledge in the fields of genetics, endocrinology, psychology, sociology, economics, and public policy - among others. In this short review, which serves as an introduction to the Frontiers in Endocrinology research topic, we address one cross-disciplinary relationship: the interaction between the hunger/satiation neural circuitry, an individual's perceived locus of control, and the risk for obesity. Mammals have evolved a complex system for modulating energy intake. Overlaid on this, in humans, there exists a wide variation in "perceived locus of control" - that is, the extent to which an individual believes to be in charge of the events that affect them. Whether one has primarily an internal or external locus of control itself affects, and is affected by, external and physiological factors and has been correlated with the risk for obesity. Thus, the path from hunger and satiation to an individual's actual behavior may often be moderated by psychological factors, included among which is locus of control.

Lifestyle medicine

Fundamental Clinical Imbalances : Neurological ; Immune and inflammation
Patient Centred Factors : Mediators/Obesity
Environmental Inputs : Diet ; Physical exercise ; Mind and spirit
Personal Lifestyle Factors : Stress and resilience ; Psychological
Functional Laboratory Testing : Not applicable

Methodological quality

Jadad score : Not applicable
Allocation concealment : Not applicable
Publication Type : Journal Article ; Review


Nutrition Evidence keywords : Ghrelin ; Cortisol ; Weight stigma