Psychology (Body Image)

The psychological state of obese patients including body image and self-esteem.

obesity-effects-body-disatisfactionFor years now the obesity epidemic in Australia has been growing exponentially with Australia becoming one of the highest growing rates of obesity in the world with statistics showing that obesity in Australia growing 10% in just 10 years. At this rate obesity is estimated to be as large as 65% of the population to be classified as overweight or obese by 2020.

With obesity being such a key issue in the western population, it is to be expected that the related health issues around obesity are commonly documented and advertised in attempts to increase the awareness of the condition. While physical health effects such as Type 2 Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, and an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes are well-known side effects, there is minimal discussion being done on the mental/psychological effects that people suffering from obesity have to face.

The origin of Eating disorders and psychological conditions tend to be commonly intertwined with each other, as individuals suffering from depression or anxiety tend to have a much harder time when controlling eating habits and sustaining a healthy active lifestyle. Those who do suffer from these conditions often tend to find themselves resulting in the common western coping mechanism of eating copious amounts of calories in order to deal with their sad/anxious/stressful moods. Although depression, anxiety, and other psychological disorders can cause obesity, the dependency can also be turned around the other way.

A common and important factor in the relation to obesity is the idea that it’s not the physical condition making people depressed/anxious, it’s the social stigma attached to being overweight or obese. Physicians commonly associate various effects such as poor hygiene, hostility, dishonesty to obesity, even extending to a lack of love and willpower. Not only do these people experience stigmatization through the medical profession, they also find that differences exist in the social field as they are found to be less likely to be hired by an employer and are seen more incompetent than their slim counterparts. With individuals undergoing such pressures from society it is not surprising to see that research shows that the rates of clinical depression and anxiety tend to be far higher in patients suffering from obesity.

Individuals suffering from depression have a much lower life satisfaction factor due to this and find themselves embarrased and disatisfied with their bodies as a result.