Objectives: The study explored associations between body weight, psychiatric disorders and body image in a nonclinical sample of female adolescents. It was also investigated whether complaints of negative body image could be an indicator of psychiatric morbidity. Methods: A sample of 136 Swiss female high school students, 15–20 years of age, initially had weight, height and body image (FBeK questionnaire) assessed and were screened for psychiatric morbidity (SSQ). Subsequently, they were assessed using the DIA-X psychiatric interview which generates DSM-IV diagnoses. Univariate, multivariate, regressive and canonical correlation analyses were performed. Results: Being overweight was significantly correlated with a more negative body image (attractiveness/self-confidence). There were also significant correlations between psychiatric diagnoses and unfavorable body image (3 of the 4 FBeK scales). Besides having a more disturbed body image, overweight subjects also evidenced more psychiatric morbidity. The multiple regression analysis revealed that psychiatric disorders had the greatest association with negative body image, followed by age and weight. The canonical correlation indicated that body image, psychiatric disorder, age and weight clearly correlated with one another (Rxy = 0.43). Conclusion: Psychosomatic research should be more concerned about issues of obesity and concurrent psychiatric morbidity and aim to develop preventative as well as therapeutic treatment methods. Physicians should be aware of the associations between obesity, negative body image and psychiatric morbidity.
Copyright 1999 S.Karger AG, Basel
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