Reciprocal Effects of Exercise and Nutrition Treatment-induced Weight Loss with Improved Body Image and Physical Self-concept

James J. Annesi, Kennesaw State University
Kandice J. Porter, Kennesaw State University


Improvements in self-image and mood are often reported as outcomes of obesity interventions. However, they may also concurrently influence weight loss, suggesting a reciprocal effect. Although previously reported for overweight women, such relationships were untested in morbidly obese women whose psychosocial responses to treatment may be different, and health-risks greater. Women (N = 161, Meanage = 42 years) with morbid obesity (MeanBMI = 45.1 kg/m2) participated in a 6-month, behaviorally based physical activity and nutrition treatment. Significant within-group improvements in weight-loss behaviors (physical activity and eating), weight, body satisfaction, physical self-concept, and depression were found. After controlling for age, mediation analyses indicated that, as a result of the treatment, weight loss was both an outcome and mediator of improvements in body-areas satisfaction and physical self-concept (reciprocal effects), but not depression. Results replicated findings from women with lower degrees of overweight, and suggested that weight-loss treatments emphasize changes in self-perception.