Category: Weight Loss

Body Image and Health Perceptions DISCUSSION

This study suggests that young African-American adults may have perceptions of overweight that differ from those of the medical community. As seen in other studies, males are more likely than females to inaccurately classify their weight. The data presented here support earlier research showing that women’s definitions of overweight, ideal weight and healthy weight are consistently lower than men’s.

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In this study, we were interested in the association between body size awareness and body size satisfaction with the perceived risk of disease due to weight. Unadjusted analysis of perceived risk for any disease by body awareness and body satisfaction for male and female respondents revealed the following associations. For both male and female respondents, perceived risk for any disease was associated with perception of self as overweight or obese, desire for body weight to be lower, upper torso to be larger, higher number of body areas desired to be smaller, and lower number of desired body areas to be larger. Weight-related variables associated with perceived risk of disease due to weight for both males and females include overweight and obese weight status, higher BMI, overweight status as a child, and father overweight weight status. For females, mother overweight and any family member overweight were also associated with perceived risk for disease due to weight status. For males, the following demographic variables were also associated with perceived risk of disease due to weight: income of <$20,000, older age and having ever been married.

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Table 1 shows demographic information by gender. The majority of the sample was single and U.S. citizens. Approximately, 15% of the sample had >1 children. Approximately two-thirds of the sample were employed; 54% received financial support from family; 33% received financial aid; 19% had savings or investments; 70% reported an annual income of <$20,000; and 91.5% reported their health status as good, very good or excellent. Males were slightly older than females. No other statistically significant differences were found on demographic variables when compared by gender.

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Sociodemographic Variables

Respondents reported on personal demographic information, including age, race, U.S. citizenship, marital status, number of children, income, health status and health history (ever diagnosed by a physician for any of the following conditions: high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, heart disease and breathing problems).

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Study Setting and Participants

We conducted a cross-sectional survey among 406 young adults (primarily African-American) graduating in the spring of 2003 from a historically black university located in the mid-Atlantic region. The entire graduating undergraduate class was eligible to participate regardless of age, sex or ethnicity. Overall, 855 students were scheduled to graduate: 36% male, 63% female. Graduates were on average 26 years of age, and 89% identified as being African-American or black.

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Body Image and Health Perceptions

The prevalence of overweight and obesity is at epidemic levels in the United States, and this epidemic is particularly high among African Americans. The 1995 National College Health Risk Behavior Survey (NCHRBS) suggests that the prevalence of at least overweight is 48.7% in African-American students compared to 34.6% in white students. However, it has been noted that among young African-American adults, body weight is often taken too lightly and body awareness as it relates to overweight and obesity status is often lacking. Regardless of ethnicity or race, young adult males are more likely to be unaware of their body weight compared with women. In a national study, 27.5% of women and 29.8% of men misclassified their own weight status by National Institutes of Health (NIH) standards. Of particular note, 32.8% of overweight men thought they were “about the right weight” or “underweight”. For many people, particularly men, the meanings of overweight and ideal weight differ from the health recommendations.

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Body Image and Attitude toward Obesity DISCUSSION

Our study sample comprised 191 black men and women attending an historically black university. These subjects were comparably distributed by sex and college level. Each subject underwent BMI determination and selected body images that best represented who they thought they were and how they would like to be. Also, each subject answered 20 questions about attitudes toward obeseĀ (Generic Xenical is a slimming tablet for those who are obese) persons.

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