Body Image and Perceived Stress Levels among Obese Women

Author(s): Anupama Korlakunta, Karpagam V, Sarada D

Background: Overweight and obesity brings about change in body shape and size of individuals making them to look odd and creates problems in decent dressing due to unavailability of suitable dress designs and brands. This makes most women to feel low, inadequate and inferior to their peers and causes them to resort to emotional eating and social isolation.

Methods: An explorative study with Quan-Qual design was conducted with an objective to examine the body image perception and perceived stress levels among obese women and having a Body mass Index above 31aged between 21 to 50 years in Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh. The perceived body image and stress levels was assessed using a five point rating scale along with the somatic status of 100 obese women.

Results:Majority of women under study perceived high levels stress and the percentage of women having high scores of stress were comparatively more among those who had below average body image (55%) followed by average (33%) and above average body image (12%). The stress levels were found to be high in both the Grade I (61.4%) and Grade II obese women (86.7%).

Discussion: The findings of the present study indicates that the obese women, who were categorized based on their ;body image, Age, Body Mass Index and Waist Hip Ratio perceived elevated levels of stress and statistically significant association was found for BMI and stress levels and WHR and stress levels at 0.05 and 0.001 levels respectively. This ascertains that body image perception of obese women has a strong relationship with their perceived stress levels.

Conclusion: The obesity interventions need to aim at weight loss along with reduction of abdominal fat and stress reducing initiatives as part of their programmes to help obese women to overcome body image issues which is a major stressor.

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