The Impact of Shame, Self-Criticism and Social Rank on Eating Behaviours in Overweight and Obese Women Participating in a Weight Management Programme.

PloS one

PubMedID: 28107449

Duarte C, Matos M, Stubbs RJ, Gale C, Morris L, Gouveia JP, Gilbert P. The Impact of Shame, Self-Criticism and Social Rank on Eating Behaviours in Overweight and Obese Women Participating in a Weight Management Programme. PLoS ONE. 2017;12(1):e0167571.
Recent research has suggested that obesity is a stigmatised condition. Concerns with personal inferiority (social rank), shame and self-criticism may impact on weight management behaviours. The current study examined associations between social comparison (shame, self-criticism), negative affect and eating behaviours in women attending a community based weight management programme focused on behaviour change. 2,236 participants of the programme completed an online survey using measures of shame, self-criticism, social comparison, and weight-related affect, which were adapted to specifically address eating behaviour, weight and body shape perceptions. Correlation analyses showed that shame, self-criticism and social comparison were associated with negative affect. All of these variables were related to eating regulation and weight control (p < 0. 001). Path analysis revealed that the association of shame, hated-self, and low self-reassurance on disinhibition and susceptibility to hunger was fully mediated by weight-related negative affect, even when controlling for the effect of depressive symptoms (p < 0. 050 to p < 0. 010). In addition, feelings of inadequacy and unfavourable social comparisons were associated with higher disinhibition and susceptibility to hunger, partially mediated through weight-related negative affect (p = 0. 001). These variables were negatively associated with extent of weight loss during programme attendance prior to the survey, while self-reassurance and positive social comparisons were positively associated with the extent of weight loss prior to the survey (p <. 050). Shame, self-criticism, and perceptions of inferiority may play a significant role in self-regulation of eating behaviour in overweight people trying to manage their weight.