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  • Gender Differences in Body Image and Health Perceptions: METHODS

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.

The university is located in an urban area and attracts students from all 50 states and numerous foreign countries. Over 6,000 students are enrolled in programs from the baccalaureate through the doctorate level. It is one of the leading national institutions in the number of applications received from African-American, high-school graduates. Although a historically black institution, the university always has served students of all racial and ethnic backgrounds. The racial composition in the fall of 2002 was as follows: African Americans (89%); whites (2%); and Asians, Hispanics and Indians (~3^t%). Six percent were international students.
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Following the receipt of institutional review board approval, a recruitment letter was sent to the students’ permanent home addresses. This letter provided information about the study and invited them to participate. Subsequently, a self-administered paper-and-pencil survey was conducted as seniors waited in line to receive their graduation regalia. Stations for data collection were set up in the student union for two days. The survey took approximately 30-45 minutes to complete. Written informed consent was obtained from each participant and investigators were present to answer questions. Upon comĀ­pletion of the questionnaire, each participant received a $10 incentive.

In this analysis, we excluded 47 individuals who had incomplete data on ideal weight, 10 individuals who had incomplete data on healthy weight, 18 individuals who had incomplete data on the perceived impact of weight on social interactions scale, six individuals who had incomplete data on height and/or weight, five individuals who wanted to reduce their weight by 100 lbs or more, one who had incomplete data on marital status, three who had incomplete data on self-perception of weight status, two individuals who had incomplete data on sex and six due to current pregnancy. This yielded a final study sample of 318 individuals: 104 (33%) males and 214 (67%) females. Those excluded were not different on any study variables compared with those who remained in the study.
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