Trait body shame predicts health outcomes in college women: A longitudinal investigation

J Behav Med. 2015 Dec;38(6):998-1008. doi: 10.1007/s10865-015-9659-9. Epub 2015 Jul 23.


Trait body shame impacts psychological health, but its influence on physical health heretofore has not been examined. While body shame may be expected to impact physical health through many mechanisms, this investigation tested whether trait body shame predicts physical health outcomes by promoting negative attitudes toward bodily processes, thereby diminishing health evaluation and ultimately impacting physical health. Correlational (Study 1, N = 177) and longitudinal (Study 2, N = 141) studies tested hypotheses that trait body shame would predict infections, self-rated health, and symptoms, and that body responsiveness and health evaluation would mediate these relationships. In Study 1, trait body shame predicted all three poor health outcomes, and body responsiveness and health evaluation mediated these relationships. Study 2 partially replicated these results while controlling for depression, smoking, and BMI, and longitudinal analyses supported the temporal precedence of trait body shame in the proposed model. Limitations and alternative pathways are discussed.

Keywords: Body responsiveness; Health evaluation; Health outcomes; Self-rated health; Trait body shame.

MeSH terms

  • Body Image / psychology*
  • Depression
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Shame*
  • Universities*
  • Young Adult