Background: The effectiveness of post-surgical weight loss in improving body image disturbance (BID) in morbidly obese patients is still unclear. Providing multidimensional measures of BID and controlling for the effect of co-morbid eating psychopathology may help to clarify this issue. This preliminary study explores whether 1) BID improves 1 year after laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding (LAGB), and whether 2) such improvement is related to post-surgical BMI and/or eating disorder reduction. BID was multidimensionally assessed by means of the Body Uneasiness Test (BUT). Methods: 35 obese subjects (mean BMI 45.5) were evaluated prior to and I year after LAGB using the BUT, and a standardized interview and questionnaire to assess eating psychopathology. BID and eating habit changes during follow-up were also investigated. Postoperative BUT values were entered as outcome measures (dependent variables) in a series of stepwise multiple regression analyses; BMI and binge eating reduction, baseline BUT scores, gender, age, and age of onset of obesity were tested as independent variables. Results: Some aspects of BID (body image over-concern and related avoidance behaviors, compulsive self-monitoring, and overall severity of BID) improved following LAGB, while others (weight phobia, depersonalization, and uneasiness toward body parts) did not. The post-surgical lower levels of the former were predicted by the overall decrease in binge eating symptoms, irrespective of BMI reduction, age, gender, and age of onset of obesity. Conclusions: LAGB may ameliorate some BID aspects in morbidly obese patients, and an improvement in eating behaviors may contribute to this effect.
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