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Obes Surg. 2004 May;14(5):579-88.

Psychological profile of the morbidly obese.

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  • 1Department of Medical Psychology, Catharina Hospital, Eindhoven, the Netherlands.



In the surgical treatment of morbid obesity, surgery on its own represents only one element. In fact, bariatric surgery is a forced behavior modification; in addition to surgery, psychological factors play an important role in its results. Because of the importance of the psychological factors and the possibility to intervene in them, there is a need for a better understanding of morbidly obese patients, especially those who are candidates for bariatric surgery. Thus, this article reviews their psychological profile.


A systematic literature search identified relevant variables reflecting personality and psychopathology, eating behavior, social problems, and quality of life.


Morbidly obese patients are described as depressed, anxious,having poor impulse control, low self-esteem, and impaired quality of life. Dieting, rigid control, and disinhibition characterize their eating behavior. This seems to be especially true for morbidly obese patients seeking surgical treatment for their obesity.


The existing literature about the characteristics of the morbidly obese is far from conclusive; this may in part be due to the use of poor methods of assessment.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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