Psychological Perspectives on Consumer Obesity

Call for papers for: European Journal of Marketing

Submission window: 1 May 2021-31 July 2021

Special Issue Guest Editors:
Michael Christofi (Cyprus University of Technology)
Danae Manika (Brunel University London)
Elias Ηadjielias (Cyprus University of Technology)
Olga Kvasova (University of Central Lancashire)
Dan Petrovici (University of Kent)
Ben Lowe (University of Kent)

The prevalence of obesity has increased at an exponential rate over the past decades. Currently, more than 44% of the global population are considered overweight, and almost 2 billion individuals are obese (Petersen et al., 2019; Thaiss, 2018). Thus, obesity rates at a global scale have escalated to the point of becoming a global epidemic (Petersen et al., 2019; Moore, Wilkie, & Desrochers, 2017; Major et al., 2014). The obesity epidemic has not been reversed in any country (Roberto et al. 2015). Moreover, an issue of even greater concern is that compared to 1980, there has been approximately a 50% increase in the proportion of overweight children worldwide (Moore et al. 2017; Ng et al. 2014). The increasing levels of childhood obesity are a serious global problem (Moore et al. 2017), with potentially detrimental negative implications for global health and well-being, now and in the future. 

The consequences related to obesity are several and span across various dimensions. In terms of health risks, obesity is a major risk factor for various co-occurring diseases, such as, ischemic cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (Thaiss, 2018). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 30% of U.S. citizens are obese and one in ten has been diagnosed with diabetes, a rate that is estimated to increase to one in three individuals by 2050 (Ma et al. 2013; Burnette, & Finkel, 2012; CDC, 2010). Dietary factors are the most important preventable cause of mortality in developed countries, while dietary risk and high body-mass index are leading contributors to disability (Cabinet Office and Department of Health and Social Care, 2019). Moreover, obesity is associated with cancer and all-cause mortality (Preston, Vierboom, & Stokes, 2018). Obesity also coupled with COVID19 presents an additional concern over the last few months. Obesity represents a risk factor for severe COVID19 infections (Sattar et al. 2020), raising public health concerns and calling for an expansion of national governmental approaches with new target groups for special measures and public health prevention messages.

The consequences of obesity are not only health-related. For children, obesity brings social marginalization, teasing, and bias which can lead to lower self-esteem and increased risks of depression, eating disorders, etc. (Moore et al. 2017; Puhl and Lattner 2007). For governments, this has profound economic consequences as well as the total health costs related with overweight people costs to their economies several billions every year (Argo and White, 2012). The consequences of obesity have also social dimensions as it reduces the quality of life for consumers worldwide (Ma et al. 2013). Finally, obesity is also associated with various psychological aspects for overweight individuals, such as the severe stigmatization of such people by their surroundings, as they are often negatively stereotyped as lazy and lacking in self-control and face widespread discrimination (Blodorn et al., 2016; Major et al., 2014). Hence, assessing the concept of obesity and the consequences of excessive food consumption habits has emerged as a topic of substantive importance in recent years for practitioners, policy makers and researchers from a variety of disciplines (West-Eberhard, 2019; Pham, 2014; Talukdar and Lindsey, 2013; Kaufman, & Karpati, 2007; Raghunathan, et al. 2006; Salant, & Santry, 2006).

Obesity is a complex disease that is influenced by a mixture of behavioural, environmental, and genetic variables (Wang, & Hooper, 2019; Cutts, Darby, Boone, & Brewis, 2009; Cohen, Finch, Bower, & Sastry, 2006). Many policies were proposed to tackle obesity (Garbarino, Henry, & Kerfoot, 2017). From a marketing perspective, obesity research has tended to focus on issues such as how advertising and promotions influence a consumer’s food consumption (Garg et al. 2007) and the impacts of social marketing interventions to change food consumption practices and exercise behaviour (Manika, et al. 2017a; 2017b). The use of technology has also become an increasingly important theme (Balcombe et al. 2016; Lowe, Fraser and Souza-Monteiro 2015). Furthermore, researchers focusing on consumer health have examined the effects of various factors on food consumption and they found that the amount of food people consume is not only affected by physiological hunger cues, but also by various external cues, such as the social environment (family and friends), pricing and packaging issues, choice variety, colours lights, shapes and smells, distractions and distances, among others (Tangari et al. 2019; Moore et al. 2017; Haws et al. 2017). 

However, despite the increasing interest of the scholar community on the intersection between marketing and obesity, there are several research areas that remain unexplored. For instance, research on the influence of family structure and reconfiguration issues towards childhood obesity is scarce (Moore et al. 2017).  Another stream of research that merits further investigation is the influence of performance claims by products on unhealthy and high-calorie food products (e.g.: a recent ad implicitly relates the consumption of Nutella with performance at school) (Cornil, Gomez, & Vasiljevic, 2020). Moreover, a very important but overlooked research area is the interaction effect of marketing and medicine in treating obese individuals.  For instance, there is research evidence that marketing actions, such as changes in the price of a product, can affect neural representations of experienced (e.g., flavor) pleasantness (Plassmann, O'Doherty, Shiv, & Rangel, 2008). Finally, another crucial area for further research is the psychological outcomes of consumer obesity, as overweight and obese individuals are being severely stigmatized by their environment and society. For instance, future research could investigate the impact of long-term social identification and social identity salience on healthy (vs unhealthy) consumption or on excessive food consumption (Hackel et al., 2018), or to consider the long-term psychological processes that could result from enhanced self-conscious emotions in response to obesity-related negative stereotypes and behaviours (Derricks, & Earl, 2019). Along the same lines, marketing, psychology, and obesity researchers could investigate the impact of marketing actions on experienced pleasantness of healthy foods during a diet treatment of obese individuals, or the experienced unpleasantness of unhealthy food. 

Suggested Topics
In this context, this Special Issue aims to attract state-of-the-art manuscripts that bring together multidisciplinary knowledge on obesity research. The goal is to develop integrative knowledge and transformative theories to enhance understanding of concepts, behaviours, problems and issues related to obesity, as well as to improve insights on successful practices in this area that can help battle obesity. We invite submissions that draw upon theories and concepts from a variety of disciplines, as well as papers that explore contextual factors and conditions surrounding the special issue topic. We hope to collect exemplary empirical research and theoretical developments that fit the Special Issue topic. We encourage interdisciplinary research studies that demonstrate synthetic capabilities for the development of integrative theories and themes, especially those that generate conceptual variety and novelty for the SI topic. Adding to this, the special issue also considers meta-analyses and qualitative review articles, such as, integrative reviews, systematic reviews, as well as state-of-the-art interdisciplinary reviews that demonstrate the value of cross-fertilization of ideas between psychology, marketing, medicine, and obesity research and that they establish an agenda for future research. 

Examples of the topics covered by the Special Issue are as follows (non-exhaustive):

  • The long-term psychological processes that result from enhanced self-conscious emotions in response to negative stereotypes based on weight identities
  • The impact of marketing on the medicalization of obesity
  • The positive and negative effects of bariatric -weight loss- surgery advertising
  • The impact of long-term social identification and social identity salience on food consumption patterns
  • Marketing strategies for enhancing healthy consumption 
  • The impact of atmospheric ambiance on healthy Vs unhealthy consumption, and overconsumption 
  • Marketing strategies and consumers’ consumption behaviour
  • Digital marketing, social media and mobile marketing and their impact on obesity in youth
  • The use of mobile technologies for healthy eating and self-monitoring
  • Public policies on food products and consumers’ overconsumption behaviour
  • Product packaging, product display and consumers’ overconsumption behaviour
  • The role of marketing on the relationship between adult consumers (parents) and obese children
  • The combined effect of marketing and medicine on treatments for adult and childhood obesity 
  • The relationship between marketing actions and experienced unpleasantness on the consumption of unhealthy foods
  • The role of marketing on the development and battle of obesity epidemic
  • Customized obesity treatments based on consumers’ personality characteristics – suggest traits
  • The impact of family and structure and configuration issues on childhood obesity
  • The relationship between consumers’ culture and obesity
  • Parents’ knowledge, motivation, and awareness regarding childhood obesity
  • The impact of “performance claims” as part of the positioning of high-calorie foods on unhealthy consumption and overconsumption
  • The role and influence of personality traits on the relationship between various marketing strategies and consumers’ unhealthy/ over - consumption behaviour.
  • The relationship between marketing actions and experienced pleasantness on the consumption of healthy foods
  • The role of marketing ecosystem in encouraging consumers for diet and physical activity
  • Obesity and social marketing initiatives
  • Critical reviews, integrative reviews, interdisciplinary reviews, systematic reviews and meta-analyses on food consumption and consumer psychology, obesity and marketing, child obesity and marketing, medicine/ bariatrics and marketing, overconsumption and advertising, consumer physical wellbeing and obesity, etc.  

Submission Information

•    Submission window: May 1, 2021- July 31 2021
•    Submissions should be prepared using the European Journal of Marketing Manuscript Preparation Guidelines ( 
•    Manuscripts must be submitted electronically online at Manuscripts cannot be submitted until May 1 2021. Please select this special issue from drop down menu during submission. 
•    Papers will be reviewed according to the European Journal of Marketing double-blind review process 
•    Informal enquiries relating to the Special Issue, proposed topics and potential fit with the Special Issue objectives are welcomed. Please direct any questions to the

Guest Editors:
Michael Christofi (managing guest editor) at: [email protected]
Danae Manika at: [email protected]
Elias Hadjielias at: [email protected]   
Olga Kvasova at: [email protected] 
Dan Petrovici at: [email protected]
Ben Lowe at: [email protected] 


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Balcombe, K., Fraser, I. M., Lowe, B. & Souza-Monteiro, D.M. (2016). Information customization and food choice. American Journal of Agricultural Economics, 98 (1), 54-73. 
Blodorn, A., Major, B., Hunger, J., & Miller, C. (2016). Unpacking the psychological weight of weight stigma: A rejection-expectation pathway. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 63, 69-76.
Burnette, J. L., & Finkel, E. J. (2012). Buffering against weight gain following dieting setbacks: An implicit theory intervention. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 48(3), 721-725.
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Garbarino, E., Henry, P., Kerfoot, S. (2017). Using attribution to foster public support for alternative policies to combat obesity. European Journal of Marketing, Volume 52 (1/2), 418-438.
Garg, N., Wansink, B., & Inman, J. J. (2007). The influence of incidental affect on consumers' food intake. Journal of Marketing, 71(1), 194-206.
Hackel, L. M., Coppin, G., Wohl, M. J., & Van Bavel, J. J. (2018). From groups to grits: Social identity shapes evaluations of food pleasantness. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 74, 270-280.
Haws, K. L., Liu, P. J., Redden, J. P., & Silver, H. J. (2017). Exploring the relationship between varieties of variety and weight loss: When more variety can help people lose weight. Journal of Marketing Research, 54(4), 619-635.
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Moore, E. S., Wilkie, W. L., & Desrochers, D. M. (2017). All in the family? Parental roles in the epidemic of childhood obesity. Journal of Consumer Research, 43(5), 824-859.
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Tangari, A. H., Bui, M., Haws, K. L., & Liu, P. J. (2019). That’s Not So Bad, I’ll Eat More! Backfire Effects of Calories-per-Serving Information on Snack Consumption. Journal of Marketing, 83(1), 133-150.
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Bios of Guest Editors

Michael Christofi is a Lecturer in Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the School of Management and Economics at Cyprus University of Technology. His research spans across the fields of corporate social responsibility, well-being, strategic and entrepreneurial marketing, innovation, strategic agility and organizational ambidexterity. His research work has been published in premier publication outlets, such as in British Journal of Management, Journal of World Business, Journal of Business Research, Technological Forecasting & Social Change, International Business Review, and International Marketing Review, among others. He has authored several book chapters and won various awards for his research work and academic service. Dr. Christofi has also served and serves as a guest editor for 17 special issues at leading journals such as Technovation, British Journal of Management, Journal of Business Research, Technological Forecasting & Social Change, and International Marketing Review, among others.

Danae Manika is a Professor of Marketing & Business Education at Brunel Business School, Brunel University London, UK. Her research focuses on health and environmental behaviour change and takes an information processing approach, which identifies, classifies and examines cognitive and affective factors that influence individuals’/consumers’/employees’ decisions and choices after exposure to campaigns/messages/interventions; and translate knowledge acquisition to behaviour change/formation. The campaigns/messages/interventions often examined involve digital components and technology-based consumer behaviours (e.g., adoption and usage of technology-based solutions). She has a track record of high quality publications in journals, such as Psychology & Marketing, Journal of Health Communication, Journal of Business Ethics, Journal of Marketing Management, International Journal of Advertising, Journal of Marketing Communications, Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Computers in Human Behavior, Information Technology & People, and Tourism Management, amongst others. Her research has been supported by external funding bodies such as Cancer Research UK, Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and Research England. She is an Associate Editor in the Journal of Marketing Management, and serves on the Editorial Review Board of Business & Society and on the Editorial Advisory Board of Technological Forecasting & Social Change; while she has experience as a guest editor for special issues in Technological Forecasting & Social Change; and the Journal of Business Research, amongst others. 

Elias Ηadjielias is a Lecturer in Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Cyprus University of Technology. His research includes issues such as international entrepreneurship, business groups, entrepreneurship in family businesses, sustainable entrepreneurship and business-to-business collaborations and co-operations. Elias won various awards for his research work and academic service and he has published scientific articles in international prestigious journals, such as Annals of Tourism Research, International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Small Business, International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior and Research, Journal of Business and Industrial Marketing and Journal of Family Business Strategy.  Dr. Ηadjielias has served and serves as a Guest-editor for six special issues at leading journals such as International Marketing Review, Technological Forecasting & Social Change, Journal of Small Business Management, and Journal of Business Research, among others. 

Olga Kvasova is Assistant Professor of Marketing, School of Business and Management, University of Central Lancashire, Cyprus. Her research focuses on consumer health and wellbeing, consumer psychology and on identifying the factors that influence consumer environmental attitudes and behaviour. Her research work has been published in highly esteemed publication outlets in the marketing field such as Journal of International Marketing, European Journal of Marketing, Psychology & Marketing, Management International Review, Personality and Individual Differences, and Journal of Business Ethics. 

Dan Petrovici is Associate Professor of Marketing, Kent Business School, University of Kent, UK. His research focuses on marketing communications (e.g. consumer response to campaigns/messages) and consumer behaviour (consumer processing of health-related information, food consumption, behavioural change, health and nutritional claims). His work has been published in international prestigious journals such as International Marketing Review, European Journal of Marketing, Journal of Public Policy and Marketing, International Journal of Advertising, Journal of Consumer Policy, Journal of Business Research, Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy, British Food Journal, British Medical Council Public Health and Journal of Business Ethics. His research has been supported by external funding bodies such as the British Academy and the European Commission. He serves on the Editorial Review Board of Journal of Business Research and the International Journal of Advertising and on the Editorial Advisory Board of International Marketing Review.

Ben Lowe is Professor of Marketing at Kent Business School, University of Kent, United Kingdom. His work has been published in journals such as the European Journal of Marketing, the Journal of Interactive Marketing, the Journal of Public Policy and Marketing, the Journal of Business Research, Psychology & Marketing, Technovation, International Marketing Review, the American Journal of Agricultural Economics and many others. He is currently Associate editor at the European Journal of Marketing and is on the editorial review board of several other journals. He has guest edited special issues in journals such as the European Journal of Marketing, Psychology & Marketing and the Services Industries Journal.