Mediating effects of body image satisfaction on exercise behavior, depressive symptoms, and gestational weight gain in pregnancy

Ann Behav Med. 2011 Dec;42(3):381-90. doi: 10.1007/s12160-011-9300-2.


Background: Body image satisfaction in pregnancy may have an important influence on maternal biopsychosocial outcomes.

Purpose: This study aims to examine the mediating influence of trimesters 2 and 3 body image satisfaction on trimesters 2 and 3 depressive symptoms, exercise behavior, and gestational weight gain.

Methods: Pregnant women (N = 151; mean age = 30) prospectively completed study measures via mail during their 1st, 2nd, and 3rd trimesters.

Results: As predicted, trimesters 2 and 3 body image satisfaction mediated the relationship between trimester 1 body image satisfaction and trimester 2 depressive symptoms and the relationship between trimester 2 body image satisfaction and trimester 3 depressive symptoms. In contrast to the hypothesis, no mediation was observed for the relationship between body image satisfaction and exercise behavior or gestational weight gain.

Conclusions: These preliminary findings demonstrate that body image satisfaction is an important psychological determinant of depressive symptoms in pregnancy. Promoting healthy body image may be a non-pharmacological strategy that offers protective effects against depressive symptoms during pregnancy.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Image*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Depression / prevention & control
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Exercise / psychology*
  • Female
  • Health Behavior
  • Humans
  • Physical Fitness / psychology
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / prevention & control
  • Pregnancy Complications / psychology*
  • Pregnancy Trimesters
  • Prospective Studies
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Weight Gain*
  • Young Adult