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Behav Med. 2013 Oct 28. [Epub ahead of print]

Reciprocal effects of exercise and nutrition treatment-induced weight loss with improved body image and physical self-concept.

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  • 1a YMCA of Metro Atlanta and Kennesaw State University.


Abstract Improvements in self-image and mood are often reported as outcomes of obesity interventions. However, they may also concurrently influence weight loss, suggesting a reciprocal effect. Although previously reported for overweight women, such relationships were untested in morbidly obese women whose psychosocial responses to treatment may be different, and health-risks greater. Women (N = 161, Mean age = 42 years) with morbid obesity (Mean BMI = 45.1 kg/m2) participated in a 6-month, behaviorally based physical activity and nutrition treatment. Significant within-group improvements in weight-loss behaviors (physical activity and eating), weight, body satisfaction, physical self-concept, and depression were found. After controlling for age, mediation analyses indicated that, as a result of the treatment, weight loss was both an outcome and mediator of improvements in body areas satisfaction and physical self-concept (reciprocal effects), but not depression. Results replicated findings from women with lower degrees of overweight, and suggested that weight-loss treatments emphasize changes in self-perception.


body image; mood; obesity; self-concept; weight loss

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