Adjustment to rapid weight loss

  • Porter L
  • Wampler R
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The few studies examining the impact of rapid weight loss on marital satisfaction have yielded contradictory results. In the present study, changes in individual (Beck Depression Inventory, BDI; Coopersmith Self- Esteem Inventory, CSEI; Body Mass Index, BMI) and relational variables (Locke-Wallace Marital Adjustment Test, MAT) were assessed before and 6 and 12 months after Vertical Banded Gastroplasty (VBG), a surgical intervention for rapid weight loss. From a larger sample of 95 married patients, adequate pre-VBG data were obtained from 77 participants (63 women, 14 men). There was considerable sample shrinkage in the pre-VBG sample at 6 months (50 respondents, a loss of 35.1% of the sample of 77) and 12 months post-VBG (28 respondents, a loss of 63.6%), attributed primarily to the length of the questionnaire packet used and, secondarily, the failure of patients to remain in contact with the surgeon. However, when pre-VBG measures were examined, the 50 respondents and the 27 non-respondents at 6 months post-VBG did not differ significantly on any of the pre-VBG measures, nor did the 28 respondents and the 49 non-respondents at 12 months. Analyses of the data over time indicated significant improvements in depression and self-esteem and a significant reduction in the degree of obesity. However, there was no significant change in marital satisfaction 6 and 12 months post-VBG. The range of change scores was large on the MAT (from an increase of 61 to a decrease of 67). These results are discussed in terms of Harkaway's (1983) view of the idiosyncratic role of obesity in the marital system, using a Reliable Change Index to identify reliable increases and decreases. Changes in BDI and CSEI scores in men and women were parallel, as were the BMI changes. However, these obese men had significantly lower depression scores before and 12 months after surgery, significantly higher self-concept scores before surgery, 6 months, and 12 months post-surgery, and significantly higher marital satisfaction scores 12 months after surgery.

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  • L C Porter

  • R S Wampler

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