Body image and breastfeeding practices in obese mothers

Vincenzo Zanardo, Irene Gambina, Maria Elena Nicoló, Arturo Giustardi, Francesco Cavallin, Gianluca Straface, Daniele Trevisanuto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: This study analyzed body image perceptions and breastfeeding practices in obese mothers. Methods: Prospective, case-control study on 25 obese (BMI >30 kg/m2) and 25 normal-weight puerperae, matched for parity and delivery route. The participants completed the Body Uneasiness Test, a two-part, self-report questionnaire, investigating body image perception before they were discharged from hospital and participated in telephone interviews concerning breastfeeding practices. Results: Obese women demonstrated body image dissatisfaction related to their obesity. On average, they reported significantly higher scores on Global Severity Index (p < 0.0001) and on all of the BUT-A subscales: Weight Phobia (p < 0.02), Body Image Concerns (p < 0.0001), Avoidance (p < 0.0001), Compulsive Self-Monitoring (p < 0.01), and Depersonalization (p = 0.002) than did normal-weight puerperae. Moreover, they also had higher BUT-B scores and the Positive Symptom Total was significantly higher (p < 0.002). Finally, while breastfeeding practices at discharge were similar in the two groups, the obese mothers were more likely to maintain full breastfeeding at 6 months (p < 0.04). Conclusions: Obese mothers have negative body image perceptions but they maintain full breastfeeding longer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-93
Number of pages5
JournalEating and Weight Disorders
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Body Uneasiness Test, BUT
  • Breastfeeding
  • Obesity
  • Pregnancy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Medicine(all)


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