Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


This study was undertaken to explore the clinical attitudes of mental health professionals towards obese men as well as the effects of these attitudes on mental health treatment. In addition this study contributes to the growing body of literature concerning the shifting role of men's body image in the United States and the ways in which this is understood in the mental health field. Interviews were conducted with 12 male and female mental health clinicians in an inpatient and outpatient setting. They were interviewed regarding their perspectives on obesity, gender and obesity, male body image, and assessment and evaluation of obesity in the clinical setting. The findings of the research showed that there are gendered perspectives toward obesity that does affect treatment. Other significant findings were that clinicians were able to conceive of many cultural aspects that generate alternate understandings of obesity. Of further interest was the lack of fluency in discussing male body image. While participants held varied attitudes, these attitudes were strongly informed by cultural bias about obesity and bias about men. Further research is needed to develop a more thorough understanding of clinician attitudes towards men who veer away from the norm in size and shape, and the impact of shifting configurations of the ideal male on male body image.


Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2008. iii, 78 p. Includes bibliographical references (70-72)