Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



The present study investigated the nature and extent of changes in body image following weight loss treatment in an obese sample and examined the role of weight loss in predicting body image improvement. Participants were 53 obese individuals (BMI > 30) recruited from the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, the Scripps Clinic in San Diego, CA, and the Weight Management Center at the St. Charles Hospital in New Orleans. Measures of psychological functioning and a figural body image rating procedure (Body Image Assessment for Obesity; BIA-O, Williamson, et al., 2000) were administered at baseline and after a 6-month follow-up (average 195 days). Body image dissatisfaction was operationally defined as the discrepancy between BIA-O current body size and ideal body size estimations. Weight loss for the total sample averaged 30.66 lbs, or a loss of 12.7% body weight. Body image significantly improved between T1 and T2, resulting from a decrease in participants' estimations of current body size, while selections of an ideal body size remained stable. Results from a stepwise MRA revealed that a higher initial BMI, the tendency to overeat, and depression were significant predictors of initial body image discrepancy at T1 (r= .712.). At follow-up, weight loss consistently performed as the strongest predictor of body image improvement. Data suggest that weight loss brought participants' perceptions of current body size closer in congruence with their ideal body size, thereby reducing levels of body image dissatisfaction. Several limitations of this study are discussed as well as clinical implications in relation to future directions for the assessment and treatment of body image concerns in obese individuals.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Donald A. Williamson



Included in

Psychology Commons