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Adv Psychosom Med. 2006;27:73-85.

Psychosocial aspects of obesity.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 21224, USA.


Obese patients have many physical limitations and much psychiatric burden to overcome. Several studies have shown that the prevalence of psychiatric morbidity in the obese is similar to those with normal weight. However, in obese patients seeking treatment there is an increased prevalence (40-60%) of psychiatric morbidity, most commonly depression. It is difficult to separate the effects of depression on obesity and, on the contrary, the neuroendocrine changes associated with stress and depression may cause metabolic changes that predispose and perpetuate obesity. The stigma associated with obesity causes bullying in school as well as childhood psychiatric morbidity. Prejudice is not limited to the general public but exists among health professionals too. This chapter discusses the treatment of depression in obesity and the psychiatric evaluation of the pre-bariatric surgery patient. Education of society, starting with schools and including healthcare professionals will reduce bias and stigma as well as assist this vulnerable group of patients to seek help for their obesity and the many problems that come with it. Given that by the year 2025 obesity will be the world's number one health problem with the US leading the way, it is very important that we pursue preventive measures as well as encourage research for treatments of obesity.

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