Eating behaviours are habits that have formed over time. We tend to eat automatically (unconsciously) according to these patterns of behaviour. Although there may be a genetic element to being overweight, over-eating is a learned behaviour in which more calories are regularly consumed than are used.

The most common causes of over-eating:
 
organic / physical cause.

response to medication.

food addiction.
 
to feed emotions such as depression, loneliness, boredom and so on. So people eat to feel better, but this typically provides only temporary relief.

food has very positive feel-good associations, often connected with reward / celebration / treat / happy occasions.
 
low self-esteem, perhaps connected to early childhood experiences or specific traumatic incidents. Food is compensation, punishment, reward, and is often associated with a sense of guilt.

psychosocial factors - our upbringing (perhaps experiencing hunger as a child, identification of self with an overweight significant other etc).
 
a conditioned response , perhaps related to childhood experiences of being taught to eat what’s on the plate/being grateful that we're not one of the starving millions. As children, we are often then praised for clearing our plates and rewarded for doing so, typically with something sweet.
 
unconscious eating; grazing through the day, eating whilst watching TV, for example; a person can be simply unaware of how much food is being consumed.
 

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