Obesity and body image
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Psychiatr Pol 2009;43(1):109–114
The authors present a literature review of the mutual relationship between obesity and body image. Obesity is becoming a worldwide problem that causes not only medical consequences but also disturbances in psychosocial functioning. Contemporary culture stigmatizes obese persons, which increases the probability of them internalizing negative information about themselves, and can cause obese persons feel psychologically discomforted about their physical appearance. Obesity then, is a source of distress related to a negative body image that plays a substantial role in the pathogenesis of eating disorders. Body image is an element of self-image and psychological well-being is substantially dependent on it. Research has clearly shown that obese persons are dissatisfied with their body and remain dissatisfied even after having lost weight. Obese persons more often tend to overestimate than underestimate their body size. It turns out though that not all obese people have a disturbed body image to the same degree. Most significant disturbances are characteristic of people with childhood-onset or adolescence-onset obesity, women and people suffering from a binge-eating disorder.