Obesity Linked to Concealed Body Image in WhatsApp Profile Pictures

A study found that 90% of obese men and 86% of obese women with body dysmorphic disorder used concealing WhatsApp profile pictures. The research suggests that analyzing profile pictures could help doctors identify body image issues in obese patients.

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Obesity Linked to Concealed Body Image in WhatsApp Profile Pictures

Obesity Linked to Concealed Body Image in WhatsApp Profile Pictures

A recent study presented at the European Congress on Obesity in Venice, Italy has uncovered a significant link between obesity and body dysmorphic disorder. The research, led by Dr. Antonella Franceschelli of Unicamillus International Medical University in Rome, found that a majority of obese, people, hide, body, behind, profile, study in their WhatsApp profile pictures, suggesting a distorted body image.

Why this matters: This study's findings have important implications for the treatment of obesity, highlighting the need for healthcare professionals to address body image issues in conjunction with medical interventions. By recognizing the psychological complexities underlying obesity, we can develop more effective and comprehensive approaches to care.

The study analyzed the WhatsApp profile pictures of 59 obese patients, including 49 females and 10 males with a mean age of 53 years and an average BMI of 32 kg/m2. The findings revealed that 90% of obese men and 86% of obese women with body dysmorphic disorder used profile pictures that did not represent their physical reality. Instead, they opted for images of pets, family members, landscapes, flowers, or cartoon characters.

Dr. Franceschelli, the lead researcher, explained the significance of these findings: "This study suggests that something as simple as a WhatsApp profile picture could give doctors a valuable insight into whether someone living with obesity has body dysmorphia." She emphasized that the likelihood of using a concealing profile picture increases with the severity of obesity.

Body dysmorphic disorder is characterized by a distorted perception of one's body, leading to feelings of shame, anxiety, and dissatisfaction with physical appearance. Social media platforms like WhatsApp can exacerbate this condition by exposing individuals to idealized images and unrealistic beauty standards. "People with body dysmorphic disorder can be particularly sensitive to [social media] influences, constantly comparing themselves to idealised images and feeling inadequate in comparison," Franceschelli added.

The study's findings highlight the importance of addressing body image issues as part of obesity treatment. Identifying body dysmorphic disorder can inform the use of psychological interventions, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, alongside medical treatments for obesity. Franceschelli called for routinely screening for body dysmorphia in obesity patients to provide a more comprehensive and effective approach to care.

The link between obesity and body dysmorphic disorder, as revealed by concealed WhatsApp profile pictures, underscores the complex psychological challenges faced by individuals living with obesity. As Franceschelli noted, "They may have chosen such pictures to have some control over the image they present to others and to avoid exposing themselves to criticism about their body." This study opens new avenues for understanding and treating the mental health aspects of obesity.

Key Takeaways

  • Obese individuals with body dysmorphic disorder often hide their bodies in WhatsApp profile pictures.
  • 90% of obese men and 86% of obese women with body dysmorphic disorder use concealing profile pictures.
  • Body dysmorphic disorder is linked to obesity, and addressing it can improve treatment outcomes.
  • Social media can exacerbate body dysmorphic disorder by promoting unrealistic beauty standards.
  • Screening for body dysmorphic disorder should be routine in obesity treatment to provide comprehensive care.