Obesity is often characterised as nothing more than greed and lack of willpower. The truth is far more complex.

Britain has seen a dramatic transformation in recent years in its attitude towards food. We have gone from being a country ridiculed for its bland, carb-heavy cuisine, for whom the chicken tikka masala was the height of exoticness, to becoming a nation obsessed with food.

But alongside this obsession with food has come a growing understanding of the impact that our diet has on our bodies – not only on our waistlines, but also on conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and even dementia.

This relationship between our diet and our weight is simple: you eat too much, you get fat. Hence, some would argue, the solution should be equally simple: you eat less, you lose weight. 

If only it were this easy. Anyone who has tried to shed a few pounds – and, crucially, to keep them off – knows that the answer is rarely so straightforward. In fact, even the food – and volume – that we ‘choose’ to eat is influenced by a surprising number of factors.

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