Short-term changes in affective, behavioral, and cognitive components of body image after bariatric surgery


Background: Many bariatric surgery candidates report body image concerns before surgery. Research has reported post-surgical improvements in body satisfaction, which may be associated with weight loss. However, research has failed to comprehensively examine changes in affective, behavioral, and cognitive body image. Objectives: This research examined (1) short-term changes in affective, behavioral, and cognitive components of body image from pre-surgery to 1- and 6-months after bariatric surgery, and (2) the association between percent weight loss and these changes. Setting: Participants were recruited from a private hospital in the midwestern United States. Methods: Eighty-eight females (original N = 123; lost to follow-up: n = 15 at 1-month and n = 20 at 6-months post-surgery) completed a questionnaire battery, including the Body Attitudes Questionnaire, Body Checking Questionnaire, Body Image Avoidance Questionnaire, and Body Shape Questionnaire, and weights were obtained from patients’ medical records before and at 1- and 6-months post-surgery. Results: Results indicated significant decreases in body dissatisfaction, feelings of fatness, and body image avoidance at 1- and 6-months after bariatric surgery, with the greatest magnitude of change occurring for body image avoidance. Change in feelings of fatness was significantly correlated with percent weight loss at 6-months, but not 1-month, post-surgery. Conclusions: These findings highlight the importance of examining short-term changes in body image from a multidimensional perspective in the effort to improve postsurgical outcomes. Unique contributions include the findings regarding the behavioral component of body image, as body image avoidance emerges as a particularly salient concern that changes over time among bariatric surgery candidates.



Document Type





Bariatric surgery, Body checking, Body image avoidance, Body image dissatisfaction, Feelings of fatness, Weight loss

Publication Date


Journal Title

Surgery for Obesity and Related Diseases