OBESE women could be unable to stop themselves eating because of underlying emotional issues, according to research by academics at the University of Hertfordshire.

A group from the university's Obesity and Eating Disorder Research Unit has just published a book that takes into account eight years of research into the causes of obesity among groups of women.

Professor Julia Buckroyd said: "We suspected at the outset that eating behaviour was determined in part by emotional states.

"Why else would individuals who are overweight and at risk of serious obesity-related diseases continue to eat chocolate bars?

"Through our research, we found that there are very powerful emotional mechanisms at work which make it very difficult for some individuals to eat less in the long term."

As well as the research, the book, published by Wiley, includes treatment advice for weight loss therapists.