Body image change in obese and overweight women enrolled in a weight-loss intervention: The importance of perceived versus actual physical changes
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Using the exercise and self-esteem model as a guiding framework, this study examined variables related to body image change among 88 overweight and obese women (M(age)=28.4±7.8; M(BMI)=31.6±3.5) participating in a 16-week diet and exercise weight-loss intervention. Measures of body image and potential mechanisms of body image change (actual and perceived physical changes, self-efficacy) were administered at baseline, Weeks 8 and 16. Body image improved significantly over the study time-points (ps<.001). Perceived physical changes accounted for most explained variance (12-37%) in body image change (total R(2)(adj)=.21-.50). Improved perceptions of body fat were a particularly important predictor in each model (ps≤.04). Results support the notion that to improve body image, perceived changes to the body are more important than actual changes. Such information is integral to developing theories to explain body image change and interventions to maximize it.
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