Psychological correlates of obesity: moving to the next research generation

Psychol Bull. 1995 Jan;117(1):3-20. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.117.1.3.


Studies comparing obese and nonobese persons have generally failed to find differences in global aspects of psychological functioning (e.g., depression, anxiety). The resulting conclusion, that obesity does not carry risk for psychological problems, is inimical to clinical impression, reports from overweight individuals, and a consistent literature showing strong cultural bias and negative attitudes toward obese persons. The often-cited notion that obesity has no psychological consequences may be an inevitable byproduct of the manner in which the first generation of studies in the field has been conducted. The authors propose a second generation of studies that begins with a risk factor model to identify the individuals who will suffer from their obesity and the areas of functioning most affected. Recommendations are also made for a third generation of studies that will establish causal pathways linking obesity to specific areas of distress.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety / psychology*
  • Attitude
  • Body Image
  • Child
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Obesity / psychology*
  • Personality Inventory
  • Research
  • Self Concept