Do body-related shame and guilt mediate the association between weight status and self-esteem?

J Health Psychol. 2015 May;20(5):659-69. doi: 10.1177/1359105315573449.


Individuals who are overweight or obese report body image concerns and lower self-esteem. However, little is known about the mechanisms underpinning these associations. The objective of this study was to test body-related shame and guilt as mediators in the association between weight status and self-esteem. Young adult participants (n = 790) completed assessments of self-esteem and body-related guilt and shame, and weight status indicators were measured by trained technicians. Findings from multiple mediation analyses suggest that body-related shame mediates the relationship between weight status and self-esteem. If replicated in longitudinal studies, these findings suggest that reducing body-related emotions may have important implications for improving self-esteem in clinical weight management.

Keywords: mediation; obesity; self-conscious emotions; self-esteem; weight status.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Body Image / psychology*
  • Body Weight
  • Female
  • Guilt*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Obesity / psychology*
  • Overweight / psychology
  • Psychological Tests
  • Self Concept*
  • Shame*
  • Young Adult