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Body Image. 2004 Jan;1(1):43-56.

Obesity and body image.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Yale Center for Eating and Weight Disorders, Yale University, P.O. Box 208205, New Haven, CT 06520-8205, USA.


Modern western culture emphasizes thinness, denigrates excess weight, and stigmatizes obese individuals, making it likely that obese people internalize these messages and feel badly about the physical presence that brands them. There is clear evidence that obesity is linked with poor body image, but not all obese persons suffer from this problem or are equally vulnerable. Risk factors identified thus far are degree of overweight, being female, and binge eating, with some evidence of risk increasing with early age of onset of obesity, race, and several additional factors. Treatments do exist for improving body image in overweight individuals. Key questions are how to identify those in need of body image intervention, how such programs can be integrated with weight loss treatments, and ultimately, how body image distress can be prevented.

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