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The relationship between body image and weight-related shame and loss of control of eating in participants of a weight management programme


  • Compassion

Document Type

Published Date

  • 2016


  • Background & Aims: Obesity is recognised as a stigmatised condition and weight-related stigma is associated with shame (1). Recent studies suggest that body image and weight-related shame is associated with self-criticism, and aspects of control of eating, such as perceived hunger and disinhibition. Objectives: The current study examined the impact of body image and weight-related shame on loss of control of eating (binge eating symptomology) using a path analysis to examine the associations between weight status, body image shame and binge eating symptoms, considering the mediator effect of self-criticism and eating guilt. Material/Methods: 738 female participants of a commercial weight management programme (BMI > 25) completed an online survey including standardised psychometric measures of body image shame, self-criticism, eating attitudes and behaviours and binge eating symptoms. Results: BMI was significantly correlated with body image shame. Path analysis results suggested that, when controlling for the effect of BMI, body image shame still had a significant indirect effect on binge eating symptoms, mediated by self-criticism and eating guilt. In turn, self-criticism was associated with increased binge eating symptoms, and its effect was mediated by eating guilt. The model accounted for 47% of the variance of binge eating symptoms and presented very good model fit indices [X2(1) = 2.033; p = 0.154; CFI = 0.999; TLI = 0.992; RMSEA = 0.037; SRMR = 0.011]. Conclusion: These cross sectional associations suggest that BMI is associated with negative emotions and self evaluations (body image shame and self-criticism), which in turn are associated with loss of control of eating in some participants of a commercial weight management programme. These findings help identify how aspects of emotion regulation can disrupt self-regulation of weight management behaviours. These results support the concept that targeted non-stigmatic approaches to weight management that specifically help reduce self-criticism and eating guilt issues may help limit loss of control of eating (binge eating symptomology) in participants of weight management programmes
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