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Obesity and Low Self-Esteem Relationship

Obesity is a medical condition where the body has accumulated excess body fat. Obesity to large extent presents a risk to one’s health since it has undesirable effects on health by plummeting life expectancy. Obesity is taken to be of high risk in acquiring diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol level, cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Persons with body mass index greater than 30 are considered to be obese. Obesity is most common in industrialized countries and in urban setups in most cities. It often occurs to children and continues up to adulthood. It may be caused by thyroid disease, though causes liked to this health disorder are minimal. Other causes are poor nutrition, lack of exercise, eating unhealthy foods and poor eating habits (Gumbiner, 2001).

Self esteem is having confidence and believing in oneself. Low self esteem means that a person has little confidence in some aspects in his/her life. Low self esteem comes to people when they are depressed and miserable. A good proportion of people turn to eating food when they are having low esteem.

Obesity and low esteem are greatly linked. The lack of confidence makes the link between the two have a strong correlation. Schwimmer et al, (2003) indicates that previous researches have found out that obese people had lower esteem compared to non-obese. When a person is having low self esteem he/she often does things that are likely to affect their health. A person may act from emotions and eats too much unhealthy food. The more low esteem one has the more he/ she has less confidence, this may result to excessive consumption of unhealthy foods leading to obesity. Low esteem may also cause some body disorder such as anorexia which is eating disorder.

On the other hand, obesity may cause low self esteem. One may loose confidence due to his obese condition. One may be segregated, ridiculed and people may make fun out of ones massive weight. This may affect one by lowering his confidence there by lowering his self esteem. This in turn makes them over eat leading to further weight gain. The two scenarios can be taken as obesity-esteem cycle it can have a multiplying effect to person’s health, life and association with others (Lau, 2003).

Psychological impacts of obesity can either be short term or long term. In children, obese pupils are stigmatized by their fellow children. Obese children often get a lot of negative social behavior in school such as name calling, teasing, and bullying. Lies, withdraw by friends and backbiting leads to segregation to the obese children.

Obesity has various effects to a person’s personality. It may cause an obese person to develop low self-esteem, emotional misery and uneasiness. Other disorders develop from obesity are depression, suicidal thoughts, unethical weight reduction behavior may take place. Obesity is likely to be embarrassing especially in public places. Obese people are often humiliated due to their weight since they are chosen last in sports teams. They are embarrassed when they have to expose their bodies during swimming. Obese persons perform poorly by scoring low grades in schools. They are faced with difficulty of finding jobs as they are considered to be slow and lacking vigor required in some occupations (Puhl et al, 2003).

Obesity may induce people to develop some weird behavior while reacting to the situation. Some may skip meals with the aim of getting slim, others may engage in intense dieting and extended unhealthy habits such as watching television (Cameron et al, 2006). Some of these behaviors may be carried from childhood to adulthood. During adulthood one may experience strained relationship in marriage, poverty and lack of general ambition to achieve something.

Emotional distress ca result from obesity brought about by low esteem. People suffering from distress may get involved in aggressive behavior like promiscuity drug and substance abuse. Drugs that are often abused are alcohol, tobacco, cocaine, inhalants and others that are administered through injection. Others suffering from distress my turn into criminal activities and drug dealing.

People with obesity have from reports been recorded to do poorly in education. Obese people have over the years performed poorly in schools than non-obese students. The rate of school dropout among the obese has been the highest while most of them have not had great desire to further their education. The decline in performance can be attributed to loneliness, sadness, absenteeism and nervousness.

Obesity can lead to social uneasiness. During adolescence, teenagers have a strong need to feel accepted amongst their peers. Cameron et al, (2006) stated that children may want to belong to a certain group that they desire but may develop social anxiety. Some are traumatizes by ridicule from the non-obese peers of the same group. Obese teenager may admire non-obese peers who engage in sports and have high esteem but instead of socializing with them they withdraw. Withdrawal symptoms include formation of groups composed of obese people who care little of their weight; such groups keep way anybody who tries to be associated with them and is not obese.

Finally, exercising has been suggested to be one of the methods that counter both obesity and improves esteem. Exercise can decrease anxiety and depression. Aerobics and weight training has been found to enhance mood, physical self perception and boost personal confidence. Psychological motivation can be another solution to obesity. Counseling, nutritional advice and social motivation to the obese can help in elevating both low esteem and obesity (Myles et al, 2002).


Cameron, N., Norgan, N. G. & Ellison, G.T. H. (2006). Childhood obesity: contemporary issues New York: CRC Press.

Gumbiner, B. (2001). Obesity. Philadelphia: ACP Press.

Lau, B. (2000). Global negative self-evaluation, weight and eating concerns and depressive symptoms: A prospective study of adolescents. Eating Weight. Disord. 5: 7-15.

Myles S. F., Ann, L.M., Ayers T. S., Moonseong H. & Angelo, P. (2002) Weight Criticism during Physical Activity, Coping Skills, and Reported Physical Activity in Children. Pediatrics; 110(2): 23-23.

Puhl R. M & Brownell K. D. (2003) Psychosocial origins of obesity stigma: toward changing a powerful and pervasive bias. Obesity Reviews; 4: 213-227.

Schwimmer, J. B., Burwinkle, T. M. & Varni, J. W. (2003). Health-Related Quality of Life of Severely Obese Children and Adolescents. Journal of the American Medical Association. 289 (14): 1813-1819.