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Verena Parzer receives Austrian Ministry of Science Honorary Prize

Award for one of the best degree theses of the past academic year
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(Vienna, 07 December 2020) Verena Parzer, graduate of MedUni Vienna, has been awarded the Honorary Prize of the Ministry of Science (national prize for the best Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees) in recognition of her outstanding academic performance.

Verena Parzer is receiving the prize in recognition of her academic performance and her diploma thesis, in which she investigated the difference in body perception between morbidly obese patients and a normal-weight control group, as well as changes in body perception following bariatric surgery.

Obesity results in altered body perception
Morbid obesity, defined as a BMI (Body Mass Index) ≥ 40 kg/m² or BMI ≥ 35 kg/m² with at least one obesity-related comorbidity, such as arterial hypertension or diabetes, goes hand-in-hand with a large number of physical and psychological comorbidities. People who are obese are often dissatisfied with their own body image or have a distorted body image, which makes them more likely to develop eating disorders and find it harder to lose weight. Both factors therefore appear to have a significant influence on the maintenance or even exacerbation of existing obesity.

The aim of the diploma thesis was to identify the differences in body perception between morbidly obese patients and a normal-weight control group. Another aim was to study the impact of weight loss following bariatric surgery on body perception.

This study included 120 morbidly obese patients and 20 normal-weight volunteers over a period between July 2017 and August 2018. The data were collected prospectively.

It was found that body perception differs significantly between morbidly obese patients and normal-weight volunteers. Morbidly obese patients were more critical in their assessment of their body image than the normal-weight control group. Even just six months after bariatric surgery, there was a significant improvement in body perception, in that the perceived body image was much closer to the real body image.

About the Honorary Prize
Honorary Prize – national prize for the best Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees: this national prize, which is worth €3,000 and is funded from the educational grant budget, has been awarded on an annual basis since 1990 in recognition of the 50 best Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees completed at any of the Austrian universities and polytechnics (out of a total of approximately 16,000 graduates every year). The nominations for these awards come from the universities and/or from the Austrian Association of Universities of Applied Sciences. The awards are presented at an awards ceremony held every year in December.

About Verena Parzer
Verena Parzer studied medicine at MedUni Vienna and spent a foreign placement at the Université de Strasbourg. She wrote her dissertation at the Department of Medicine 1 of the Landstraße Hospital (formerly: Krankenanstalt Rudolfstiftung), where she has also been working as a junior doctor in internal medicine/endocrinology since June of this year. She is a tutor at the Teaching Center of the Medical University of Vienna.