Gender and Emotional Representation Matter : Own Illness Beliefs and Their Relationship to Obesity

Faculty/Professorship: Pathopsychology  ; Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy  
Author(s): Henning, Carmen  ; Schroeder, Stefanie ; Steins-Löber, Sabine  ; Wolstein, Jörg  
Title of the Journal: Frontiers in nutrition : FNUT
ISSN: 2296-861X
Publisher Information: Lausanne : Frontiers Media
Year of publication: 2022
Issue: 9
Pages: 13
Language(s): English
DOI: 10.3389/fnut.2022.799831

Current treatments of obesity often fail to consider gender and psychological aspects, which are essential for weight loss and weight maintenance. The aim of our study was to analyze subjective illness representations (SIRs) of adults with obesity according to the Common-Sense Self-Regulation Model (CSM) by assessing their associations with weight-related variables and gender.


Data was collected via online self-assessment between April 2017 and March 2018. SIRs were operationalized by the revised Illness Perception Questionnaire (IPQ-R) and illness outcomes according to the CSM were defined as BMI, eating behaviour, physical wellbeing, bodyweight satisfaction, and shape concerns. The sample consisted of 427 adults (M = 42.2 years, SD = 10.9; 82% female) with obesity (BMI: M = 42.3 kg/m2, SD = 9.0). Student's t-tests and multiple hierarchical regression analyses were conducted with the control variables (age and BMI) and subjective illness representations and gender as independent variables.


The explanation of outcome variances was moderate to high (21-43%) except for restraint eating behaviour (10%). Subjective illness representations showed several significant associations with weight-related variables, especially timeline and emotional representations. Female gender was significantly associated with more restraint eating behaviour [F(1, 400) = 4.19, p < 0.001] and females had unfavourable values of the weight-related variables as well as a more cyclic [t(425) = 3.68, p < 0.001], and more emotional representation [t(100) = 5.17, p < 0.001] of their obesity.


The results of this study indicate that gender and subjective illness representations, especially the emotional representation, play an important role for weight-related variables. Therefore, the assessment of SIRs may constitute an economic tool to identify specific individual deficits of self-regulation.
GND Keywords: Fettsucht
Keywords: obesity, illness beliefs, gender, BMI, eating behavior, self-regulation
DDC Classification: 150 Psychology  
RVK Classification: CU 3400   
Peer Reviewed: Ja
International Distribution: Ja
Type: Article
Release Date: 31. May 2022
Project: Gendersensible Erweiterung herkömmlicher Gewichtsreduktionsprogramme bei Übergewicht und Adipositas: eine personalisierte Smartphone-App
Open-Access-Publikationskosten 2022 - 2024
Intersectional Topic: Geschlechtersensible Forschung