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Causal attributions of obese men and women in genetic testing: Implications of genetic/biological attributions

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The present study sought to investigate genetic/biological attributions of obesity, their associations with a predisposition to obesity and their crossectional and longitudinal implications for weight regulation in obese individuals presenting for genetic testing and counselling. A total of 421 obese men and women underwent psychological and anthropometric assessment and a mutation screen of the melanocortin-4 receptor gene. At study entry, women revealed more genetic/biological attributions than men on the Revised Illness Perception Questionnaire adapted to obesity (86.2% versus 59.7%). Genetic/biological attributions of obesity were associated in both sexes with a family history of obesity, assessed through Stunkard's Figure Rating Scale. In both sexes, genetic/biological attributions were unrelated to weight regulation beliefs and behaviour (i.e. self-efficacy, controllability beliefs, restrained eating and physical activity), assessed through standardised questionnaires or interview at baseline and at six-month follow-up. In addition, causal attributions and weight regulation beliefs and behaviour were not predictive of body mass index at six-month follow-up. Overall, the results indicate that causal attributions of obesity to genetic/biological factors in obese individuals presenting for genetic screening and counselling are crossectionally and longitudinally unrelated to weight regulation and longer-term weight outcome. Those who attribute their obesity to genetic/biological factors likely have a familial obesity risk.
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Keywords: causal attributions; familial obesity risk; obesity; self-efficacy; weight regulation behaviour

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Psychology, Division of Clinical Psychology and Psychological Therapy, Philipps University of Marburg, Marburg, Germany 2: Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Rheinische Kliniken Essen, University of Duisburg-Essen, Essen, Germany

Publication date: September 1, 2009

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