Journal of Obesity & Metabolic Syndrome



Korean J Obes 2012; 21(2): 89-98

Published online June 30, 2012

Copyright © Korean Society for the Study of Obesity.

The Relationship between Obesity, Self-esteem and Depressive Symptoms of Adult Women in Korea

Youn-Jung Son, GiYon Kim(1).*

Department of Nursing, College of Medicine, Soonchunhyang University, Department of Nursing, Yonsei University Wonju College of Medicine(1)

Backgrounds: Obesity and depressive symptoms are increasingly rising as a prevalent public health problem.
Previous studies concerning association between obesity and depression have yielded inconsistent results. Thus, this study investigated whether there is any association between obesity and depressive symptoms including self-esteem in Korean adult women.
Methods: A questionnaire was administered to 455 adult women in Seoul, Kyung-Gi and Chung-Cheong province. A structured, self-reported questionnaire was used to assess each participant's socioeconomic graphics, health related life styles, self-esteem and depressive symptoms. We used multiple logistic regression analysis to assess the relationships between obesity, self-exteem and depressive symptoms.
Results: The prevalence of obesity and depressive symptoms in the subjects were respectively 23.7% and 21.5%. In the multivariate logistic regression analysis with adjusted for general characteristics, the odds ratios for depressive symptoms were significantly increased in subjects with obesity (P = .009) and decreased in proportion to the increasing levels of self-esteem (P < .001). But the odds ratios for obesity were not significantly increased in subjects with depressive symptoms and low self-steem.
Conclusion: These results support an association between obesity and depressive symptoms in women. Obese women need help in recovering their self esteem in order to control their depressive mood.

Keywords: Women, Obesity, Self-esteem, Depressive symptoms

Comparison of sociodemographic characteristics according to body mass index in adult women*

Comparison of sociodemographic characteristics according to depressive symptoms in adult women*

Comparison of health related life styles according to body mass index in adult women*

Score of self-esteem and prevalence of depressive symptoms according to body mass index in adults women*

Bidirectional relationships between obesity, self-esteem, and depressive symptoms

  1. Hevener AL, Febbraio MA; Stock conference working group. The 2009 stock conference report: inflammation, obesity and metabolic disease. Obes Rev 2010;11:635 -44.
    Pubmed CrossRef
  2. Fact sheet. Obesity: preventing and managing the global epidemic. Report of a WHO consultation [Internet]. Geneva: World Health Organization;2000[cited 2010 Oct 26]. Available from: URL:
  3. Nguyen DM, El-Serag HB. The epidemiology of obesity. Gastroenterol Clin North Am 2010;39:1-7.
    Pubmed KoreaMed CrossRef
  4. Simon GE, Ludman EJ, Linde JA, Operskalski BH, Ichikawa L, Rohde P, et al. Association between obesity and depression in middle-aged women. Gen Hosp Psychiatry 2008;30:32-9.
    Pubmed KoreaMed CrossRef
  5. Puhl RM, Heuer CA. The stigma of obesity: a review and update. Obesity (Silver Spring) 2009;17:941-64.
    Pubmed CrossRef
  6. Kim SK, Son SA. The factors which affected the eating attitude of undergraduate women. Women‘s Health 2005;6:53-70.
  7. Yom YH, Lee KE. Factors affecting eating attitude of female undergraduates in regard to BMI. J Korean Acad Nurs 2010;40:676-85.
    Pubmed CrossRef
  8. Crow S, Eisenberg ME, Story M, Neumark-Sztainer D. Suicidal behavior in adolescents: Relationship to weight status, weight control behaviors, body dissatisfaction. Int J Eat Disord 2008;41:82-7.
    Pubmed CrossRef
  9. Jeon HJ, Lee JY, Lee YM, Hong JP, Won SH, Cho SJ, et al. Lifetime prevalence and correlates of suicidal ideation, plan, single and multiple attempts in a Korean nationwide study. J Nerv Ment Dis 2010;198:643-6.
    Pubmed CrossRef
  10. Ministry for Health, Welfare and Family Affairs. Korea Health Statistics 2007 : Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey(KNHANES Ⅳ)(2007- 1st year). Seoul: Ministry for Health, Welfare and Family Affairs; 2008
  11. World Health Organization. Department of mental health and substance dependence [Internet]. World Health Organization; 2003. Available from: URL:
  12. Keddie AM. Associations between severe obesity and depression: results from the national health and nutrition examination survey, 2005-2006. Prev Chronic Dis 2011;8:A57.
  13. Luppino FS, de Wit LM, Bouvy PF, Stijnen T, Cuijpers P, Penninx BW, et al. Overweight, Obesity, Depression; A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Longitudinal Studies. Arch Gen Psychiatry 2010;67:220-9.
    Pubmed CrossRef
  14. Rohrer JE, Rohland BM. Psychosocial risk factors for obesity among women in a family planning clinic. BMC Fam Pract 2004;5:20.
    Pubmed KoreaMed CrossRef
  15. Kim JY, Chang HM, Cho JJ, Yoo SH, Kim SY. Relationship between obesity and depression in the Korean working population. J Korean Med Sci 2010;25:1560-7.
    Pubmed KoreaMed CrossRef
  16. Roberts RE, Deleger S, Strawbridge WJ, Kaplan GA. Prospective association between obesity and depression; evidence from the Alameda County Study. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord 2003;27:514-21.
    Pubmed CrossRef
  17. Roberts RE, Kaplan GA, Shema SJ, Strawbridge WJ. Are the obese at greater risk for depression? Am J Epidemiol 2000;152:163-70.
  18. Sunwoo YK, Bae JN, Hahm BJ, Lee DW, Park JI, Cho SJ, et al. Relationships of Mental Disorders and Weight Status in the Korean Adult Population. J Korean Med Sci 2011;26:108-15.
    Pubmed KoreaMed CrossRef
  19. Faith MS, Matz PE, Jorge MA. Obesity-depression associations in the population. J Psychosom Res 2002;53:935-42.
  20. Herva A, Laitinen J, Miettunen J, Veijola J, Karvonen JT, Laksy K, et al. Obesity and depression: results from the longitudinal Northern Finland 1966 Birth Cohort Study. Int J Obes (Lond) 2006;30:520-7.
    Pubmed CrossRef
  21. Hasler G, Pine DS, Kleinbaum DG, Gamma A, Luckenbaugh D, Ajdacic V, et al. Depressive symptoms during childhood and adult obesity: the Zurich Cohort Study. Mol Psychiatry 2005;10:842-50.
    Pubmed CrossRef
  22. Forman-Hoffman VL, Yankey JW, Hillis SL, Wallace RB, Wolinsky FD. Weight and depressive symptoms in older adults: direction of influence? J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci 2007;62:S43-51.
  23. Atlantis E, Baker M. Obesity effects on depression:systematic review of epidemiological studies. Int J Obes (Lond) 2008;32:881-91.
    Pubmed CrossRef
  24. Shin HS, Paik SN. Body image, self-esteem and depression in college female students : Normal and Overweight. J Korean Acad Nurs 2003;33:331-8.
  25. Mune JS. A comparison of the depression scale between obese and non-obese elderly [master's thesis]. Pochon CHA Univ.; 2007.
  26. Yang EO. Relationship between obesity and body image on depression among women. [master's thesis]. Ajou Univ.; 2009.
  27. Shoelson SE, Herrero L, Naaz A. Obesity, inflammation, insulin resistance. Gastroenterology 2007;132:2169-80.
    Pubmed CrossRef
  28. Kim YB. Correlates of depressive symptoms and suicidal ideation among korean adults [dissertation]. Cheju National Univ.; 2008.
  29. Sung KS. Study on relationships between depression and the quality of life : Centered on the subjects of 『Survey on national health and nutrition the forth period first year(2007)』 [master's thesis]. Yonsei Univ.; 2009.
  30. Jang SC, Song MH. Relationships between high school students' appearance satisfaction and self-esteem and school-related adjustment. Kor Youth Res 2004;11:15-33.
  31. Kang JJ. The study of relationship between satisfaction of body image and stress coping style. [master's thesis]. Ewha Womans Univ.; 2001.
  32. Schwartz MB, Brownell KD. Obesity and body image. Body Image 2004;1:43-56.
  33. Stewart S, Pearson S, Luke CG, Horowitz JD. Effects of a home-based intervention on unplanned readmissions and out-of-hospital deaths. J Am Geriatr Soc 1998;46:174-80.
    Pubmed CrossRef
  34. WHO, IASO, IOTF. The Asia-Pacific perspective:redefining obesity and its treatment. Manila: Health Communications Australia Pty Ltd; 2000.
  35. Greenberg JS. Comprehensive stress management. 7th ed. Boston: McGraw-Hill; 2002.
  36. Rosenberg M. Society and the Adolescent Self-image. New Jersey: Princeton University Press; 1965.
  37. Jeon BJ. Self-esteem: A Test of Its Measure Ability. Yonsei Nonchong 1974;11:107-24.
  38. Radloff LS. The CES-D scale: A self report depression scale for research in the general population. Apple Psychol Measurement 1977;1:385-401.
  39. Cho MJ, Kim KH. Diagnostic validity of the CES-D(Korean Version) in the assessment of DSM-Ⅲ -R major depression. J Korean Neuropsychiatr Assoc 1993;32:381-99.
  40. Ministry for Health, Welfare and Family Affairs. Korea Health Statistics 2009: Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey(KNHANES Ⅳ) (2009- 3st year). Seoul: Ministry for Health, Welfare and Family Affairs; 2010.
  41. Kim GS, Kim EG, Lee CY, You MA, Kim BJ, Park SH, Lee SN, Kim JE. Obesity related factors in middle aged women: Comparison of Body Mass Index and/or Waist Circumference as Measures of Obesity. J Korean Acad of Public Health Nurs 2009;23:273-84.
  42. Kim JY, Oh DJ, Yoon TY, Choi JM, Choe BK. The impacts of obesity on psychological well-being: A cross-sectional study about depressive mood and quality of life. J Prev Med Public Health 2007;40:191-5.
    Pubmed CrossRef
  43. Cho HJ, Yim HW, Jo SJ, Bang MH. Gender differences in depressive symptoms and reluctance to seek help. Korean J Woman Psychol 2008;13:283-97.
  44. Kim RB, Park KS, Lee JH, Kim BJ, Chun JH, Factors related to depression symptom on self-rates health status, outpatient health service utilization and quality of life. Korean J Health Educ Promot 2011;28:81-92.
  45. Kim JS, Shin KR. A Study on depression, stress, social support in adult women. J Korean Acad Nurs 2004;34:352-61.
  46. Shin MA, Kim TS. The relationship among body image, self-esteem and depression in urban and rural middle-aged women. Chungnam J Nurs Acad 2003;6:30-40.
  47. Kim O, Kim K. Body weight, self-esteem, depression in Korean female adolescents. Adolesc 2001;36:315-22.
  48. Mond J, van den Berg P, Boutelle K, Hannan P, Neumark-Sztainer D. Obesity, body dissatisfaction, emotional well-being in early and late adolescence: findings from the project EAT study. J Adolesc Health 2011;48:373-8.
    Pubmed KoreaMed CrossRef
  49. Richardson LP, Davis R, Poulton R, McCauley E, Moffitt TE, Caspi A, et al. A longitudinal evaluation of adolescent depression and adult obesity. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 2003;157:739-45.
    Pubmed CrossRef
  50. Matchar DB, Thakur ME, Grossman I, McCrory DC, Orlando LA, Steffens DC, et al. Testing for cytochrome P450 polymorphisms in adults with non-psychotic depression treated with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Evid Rep Technol Assess (Full Rep) 2007;146:1-77.
  51. Maes M, Meltzer HY, Scharpe S, Cooreman W, Uvttenbroeck W, Suy E, et al. Psychomotor retardation, anorexia, weight loss, sleep disturbances, loss of energy: psychopathological correlates of hyperhaptoglobinemia during major depression. Psychiatry Res 1993;47:229-41.