THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN OBESITY AND PSYCHOLOGICAL GENERAL WELL-BEING IN UNITED STATES WOMEN
While clinical studies have shown a negative relationship between obesity and mental health in women, population studies have not shown a consistent association. However, many of these studies can be criticized regarding fatness level criteria, lack of control variables, and validity of the psychological variables. The purpose of this research was to elucidate the relationship between fatness level and mental health in United States women using data from the First National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES I), which was conducted on a national probability sample from 1971 to 1974. Mental health was measured by the General Well-Being Schedule (GWB), and fatness level was determined by the sum of the triceps and subscapular skinfolds. Women were categorized as lean (15th percentile or less), normal (16th to 84th percentiles), or obese (85th percentile or greater). A conceptual framework was developed which identified the variables of age, race, marital status, socioeconomic status (education), employment status, number of births, physical health, weight history, and perception of body image as important to the fatness level-GWB relationship. Multiple regression analyses were performed separately for whites and blacks with GWB as the response variable, and fatness level, age, education, employment status, number of births, marital status, and health perception as predictor variables. In addition, 2- and 3-way interaction terms for leanness, obesity and age were included as predictor variables. Variables related to weight history and perception of body image were not collected in NHANES I, and thus were not included in this study. The results indicated that obesity was a statistically significant predictor of lower GWB in white women even when the other predictor variables were controlled. The full regression model identified the young, more educated, obese female as a subgroup with lower GWB, especially in blacks. These findings were not consistent with the previous non-clinical studies which found that obesity was associated with better mental health. The social stigma of being obese and the preoccupation of women with being lean may have contributed to the lower GWB in these women.
REED, DEBRA BUCHANAN, "THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN OBESITY AND PSYCHOLOGICAL GENERAL WELL-BEING IN UNITED STATES WOMEN" (1985). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI8601800.