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Open Access Highly Accessed Research

Body image change and improved eating self-regulation in a weight management intervention in women

Eliana V Carraça1, Marlene N Silva1, David Markland2, Paulo N Vieira1, Cláudia S Minderico1, Luís B Sardinha1 and Pedro J Teixeira1*

Author Affiliations

1 Faculty of Human Kinetics, Technical University of Lisbon, Estrada da Costa, 1495-688, Cruz Quebrada, Portugal

2 School of Sport, Health and Exercise Sciences, Bangor University, George Building, Holyhead road, Bangor, Gwynedd, UK

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International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 2011, 8:75  doi:10.1186/1479-5868-8-75

Published: 18 July 2011

Abstract

Background

Successful weight management involves the regulation of eating behavior. However, the specific mechanisms underlying its successful regulation remain unclear. This study examined one potential mechanism by testing a model in which improved body image mediated the effects of obesity treatment on eating self-regulation. Further, this study explored the role of different body image components.

Methods

Participants were 239 overweight women (age: 37.6 ± 7.1 yr; BMI: 31.5 ± 4.1 kg/m2) engaged in a 12-month behavioral weight management program, which included a body image module. Self-reported measures were used to assess evaluative and investment body image, and eating behavior. Measurements occurred at baseline and at 12 months. Baseline-residualized scores were calculated to report change in the dependent variables. The model was tested using partial least squares analysis.

Results

The model explained 18-44% of the variance in the dependent variables. Treatment significantly improved both body image components, particularly by decreasing its investment component (f2 = .32 vs. f2 = .22). Eating behavior was positively predicted by investment body image change (p < .001) and to a lesser extent by evaluative body image (p < .05). Treatment had significant effects on 12-month eating behavior change, which were fully mediated by investment and partially mediated by evaluative body image (effect ratios: .68 and .22, respectively).

Conclusions

Results suggest that improving body image, particularly by reducing its salience in one's personal life, might play a role in enhancing eating self-regulation during weight control. Accordingly, future weight loss interventions could benefit from proactively addressing body image-related issues as part of their protocols.

Keywords:
Body image; Eating Self-regulation; Eating behavior; Weight Management; Obesity