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J Psychosom Res. 1987;31(5):583-99.

Emotional health of families and their members where a child is obese.

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Institute of Organization and Social Studies, Brunel University, Uxbridge, Middlesex, U.K.


A controlled study of families with an obese child showed a small but significantly greater impairment in family functioning when this was elicited and rated using clinical methods. However no significant impairment was found when functioning was elicited with standardized objective methods. Mothers of obese children rated their families as more dysfunctional than mothers of control children. Although the emotional health of individual members in obese families was not worse than in control families, significant differences in the family patterning of emotional health were found. The more overweight the obese child, the healthier the mother rated the family, and the better her own mental health as assessed by a self-report method; and in families of obese girls, the greater the degree of overweight, the worse the rated family functioning. The findings are integrated with the literature and a theoretical explanation in which obesity is seen as an identity disturbance is offered.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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