The effect of obesity management on body image in patients seeking treatment at medical centers

Obesity (Silver Spring). 2007 Sep;15(9):2320-7. doi: 10.1038/oby.2007.275.


Objective: Body image dissatisfaction is common in treatment-seeking patients with obesity. We aimed to investigate the effects of obesity management on body image in patients with obesity attending Italian medical centers for weight loss programs.

Research methods and procedures: A total of 473 obese patients seeking treatment in 13 Italian medical centers (80% females; age, 45.9 +/- standard deviation 11.0 years; BMI, 36.8 +/- 5.7 kg/m(2)) were evaluated at baseline and after a 6-month weight loss treatment. Body uneasiness, psychiatric distress, and binge eating were tested by Body Uneasiness Test (BUT, Part A), Symptom CheckList-90 (SCL-90), and Binge Eating Scale (BES), respectively.

Results: At 6-month follow-up, the percentage weight loss was significantly higher in men (9.0 +/- 6.3%) than in women (6.8 +/- 7.3%; p = 0.010). Both men and women had a significant improvement in BUT Global Severity Index and in all of the BUT subscales with the exception of the Compulsive Self-Monitoring subscale. Linear regression analysis selected baseline psychological and behavioral measures (global score of BUT and SCL-90) and improved psychiatric distress and binge eating as independent predictors of changes in basal body dissatisfaction in females, whereas in males, changes were associated only with baseline BUT-Global Severity Index score, binge eating, and its treatment-associated improvement. Pre-treatment BMI and BMI changes did not enter the regression.

Discussion: Obesity treatment, even with a modest degree of weight loss, is associated with a significant improvement of body image, in both females and males. This effect depends mainly on psychological factors, not on the amount of weight loss.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Image*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / diagnosis*
  • Obesity / therapy*
  • Perception
  • Research Design
  • Sex Factors
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Weight Loss*