Illness perception in overweight and obesity and impact on bio-functional age.

Mathieu, Luisa; Bitterlich, Norman; Meissner, Florian; von Wolff, Michael; Poethig, Dagmar; Stute, Petra (2018). Illness perception in overweight and obesity and impact on bio-functional age. Archives of gynecology and obstetrics, 298(2), pp. 415-426. Springer-Verlag 10.1007/s00404-018-4827-0

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Obesity is pandemic. Yet, the success of most weight loss programmes is poor. The aim of the study was to assess illness perception in overweight/obese people and its impact on bio-functional age (BFA) reflecting physical, mental, emotional and social functioning.


75 overweight/obese subjects from the cross-sectional Bern Cohort Study 2014 were included. Participants followed a validated "bio-functional status" test battery amended by the validated questionnaires Patiententheoriefragebogen (illness perception) and AD-EVA (eating and movement behaviour). BFA was calculated in subjects aged ≥ 35 years (n = 56).


(1) Mental occupation with the cause of overweight/obesity was generally moderate to high, but decreasing with age. (2) The predominant theories for being overweight/obese were health behaviour (58.7%) and psychosocial factors (33.3%). (3) Overweight/obese people with psychosocial theories on illness causes were more likely to have emotional or disinhibited eating patterns. (4) Cognitive control of eating patterns increased with age in both sexes. (5) Overweight/obese people were still bio-functionally younger than their chronological age (8.6 ± 0.8 year equivalents), although (6) quality of life was below average and (7) the risk for functional pro-aging was increased in those being especially mentally occupied with causes for overweight/obesity (r = 0.38, p < 0.001) and those having psychosocial (r = 0.32, p < 0.05) or naturalistic theories (r = 0.47, p > 0.001).


Consciously perceived psychosocial stress was found to be a main factor to disturb health and promote unhealthy cognitive patterns regulating eating and moving habits. Thus, successful weight reduction programmes should integrate subjective illness perceptions to not only improve the therapeutic outcome, but also functioning (BFA).

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Gynaecology, Paediatrics and Endocrinology (DFKE) > Clinic of Gynaecology

UniBE Contributor:

von Wolff, Michael and Stute, Petra


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health








Monika Zehr

Date Deposited:

26 Mar 2019 13:50

Last Modified:

24 Oct 2019 03:52

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

Ageing Bern Cohort Study 2014 Bio-functional age (BFA) Illness perception Obesity/overweight Psychological stress




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