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The impact of self-criticism and self-reasurance on weight related positive and negative affect and well-being in participants of a commercial weight management programme

Document Type

Published Date

  • 2015


  • Introduction: Weight stigma can potentially undermine weight management by increasing self-criticism. We recently examined the links between external shame, self-criticism, social comparison, negative affect and eating behaviours in 2,236 participants attending a community based weight management program focused on behaviour change. Shame and self-criticism influenced measures of eating behaviour (disinhibition and perceived hunger)- an effect fully mediated through weight-related negative affect. In the present study we examined the impact of self-criticism on wellbeing. Method: 2,175 participants completed an online survey using measures of self-criticism, self-reassurance negative and positive affect and well-being (which were adapted to specifically address eating behaviour, weight and body shape perceptions). Results: Correlation analyses showed that self-criticism was associated with negative affect and wellbeing. Path analysis suggested that self-criticism significantly decreased well-being, both directly and indirectly, mediated by increased levels of negative affect about one's weight, and by decreased levels of positive affect about one's weight. The ability to self-reassure had a higher predictive effect on increased well-being by predicting less negative affect and by predicting increased levels of positive affect regarding one's weight. All effects were significant at p <0.001. Conclusions: Factors that increase self-criticism impact on well-being in participants engaged in attempts to manage their weight, both directly and through their impact on weight related affect. Developing self-reassuring competencies in weight management programmes enhances weight related affect and well-being
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