Social and psychological consequences of obesity

Ann Intern Med. 1985 Dec;103(6 ( Pt 2)):1062-7. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-103-6-1062.


The strong prejudice in this country against obese persons is evident in children as young as 6 years of age. There is discrimination against obese persons in both academic and work settings. Despite this discrimination, overweight persons in the general population show no greater psychological disturbance than do non-obese persons. Similarly, obese patients seen for medical or surgical procedures generally show no more psychopathology than do non-obese patients. Serious psychiatric disturbances associated with obesity include disparagement of body image and negative emotional reactions to dieting. Dieting may also be responsible for the increased incidence of bulimia observed in this country in recent years. Women, adolescent girls, and the morbidly obese appear to suffer the most deleterious consequences of society's contempt for the obese.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Body Image
  • Child
  • Diet, Reducing / psychology
  • Emotions
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hyperphagia / etiology
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology
  • Obesity / psychology*
  • Obesity / therapy
  • Prejudice*
  • Risk