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Year : 2014  |  Volume : 35  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 14-21

Dynamic aspects of obesity in a sample of Egyptian women

1 Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, Cairo University, Cairo, Egypt
2 Department of Community Medicine, National Nutrition Institute, Cairo, Egypt

Correspondence Address:
Hoda A Hussein
Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, Cairo University, Cairo
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/1110-1105.127265

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Introduction Obesity is actually conceptualized as a complex, multifactorial disorder, in which genetic, psychological, physiological, environmental, and socioeconomic factors play a major role. The nature of the relationship between obesity and psychological distress continues to be debated by researchers and clinicians. Some studies have suggested a relationship between being overweight and having increased psychiatric symptoms, and an association between obesity and several lifetime psychiatric disorders, whereas other studies have found no association at all. Aim It is hypothesized that there are differences between obese and normal-weight women in different dynamic aspects; therefore, here, we compare them in terms of defense mechanisms, self-esteem, and body image. Also, we attempt to explore the association between the degree of obesity and the severity of psychopathology. Patients and methods This was a case-control cross-sectional study, in which a group of 40 obese women seeking treatment for obesity were recruited from the National Nutrition Institute (BMI ≥ 30), and a group of 40 healthy normal-weight women were recruited from among the general population (control sample). They were subjected to the following psychometric procedures: Symptom Check List-90-R (SCL-90-R), Body Image Questionnaire (BIQ), Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (RSES), and Defense Style Questionnaire (DSQ-40). Results In terms of SCL-90-R, there was a significant difference between the two groups in the somatization, hostility, and paranoid ideation subscales; the scores for these on SCL-90-R were higher in the obese group. For BIQ, there was a statistically highly significant difference between the two groups; obese individuals had a disturbed body image compared with those in the control group. For DSQ-40, the obese women showed excessive use of immature defenses (displacement) and the control group showed frequent usage of neurotic defenses (reaction formation); there was a significant difference between the two groups in the two defenses. There was no significant difference in self-esteem. There was a positive correlation between BMI and the somatization subscale, BMI and the phobia subscale, and BMI and the Global Severity Index subscale of SCL-90-R in the obese group. There was a positive correlation between BMI and the depression subscale and BMI and the interpersonal sensitivity subscale of SCL-90-R in the control group. There was a negative correlation between BMI and mature defense styles in the obese group, whereas in the control group, there was a positive correlation between BMI and immature defense styles. There were no significant correlations between BMI and both BIQ and RSES. Conclusion Obese women have more disturbed body image, immature defense mechanisms, and psychopathology than the control group.

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