The effect of obesity management on body image in patients seeking treatment at medical centers.

Obesity (Silver Spring). 2007 Sep;15(9):2320-7.

Dalle Grave R, Cuzzolaro M, Calugi S, Tomasi F, Temperilli F, Marchesini G; QUOVADIS Study Group.



Body image dissatisfaction is common in treatment-seeking patients with obesity. We aimed to investigate the effects of obesity management on body image in patients with obesity attending Italian medical centers for weight loss programs.


A total of 473 obese patients seeking treatment in 13 Italian medical centers (80% females; age, 45.9 +/- standard deviation 11.0 years; BMI, 36.8 +/- 5.7 kg/m(2)) were evaluated at baseline and after a 6-month weight loss treatment. Body uneasiness, psychiatric distress, and binge eating were tested by Body Uneasiness Test (BUT, Part A), Symptom CheckList-90 (SCL-90), and Binge Eating Scale (BES), respectively.


At 6-month follow-up, the percentage weight loss was significantly higher in men (9.0 +/- 6.3%) than in women (6.8 +/- 7.3%; p = 0.010). Both men and women had a significant improvement in BUT Global Severity Index and in all of the BUT subscales with the exception of the Compulsive Self-Monitoring subscale. Linear regression analysis selected baseline psychological and behavioral measures (global score of BUT and SCL-90) and improved psychiatric distress and binge eating as independent predictors of changes in basal body dissatisfaction in females, whereas in males, changes were associated only with baseline BUT-Global Severity Index score, binge eating, and its treatment-associated improvement. Pre-treatment BMI and BMI changes did not enter the regression.


Obesity treatment, even with a modest degree of weight loss, is associated with a significant improvement of body image, in both females and males. This effect depends mainly on psychological factors, not on the amount of weight loss.