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  • Gender Differences in Body Image and Health Perceptions: Perceived Risk for Disease Due to Weight

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.

We used multiple logistic regression models to examine whether the association between body size awareness and body size satisfaction with perceived risk for disease due to weight remained after adjusting for potentially confounding demographic and weight-related variables. Table 4 presents gender-specific logistic regression models for the perceived risk for disease due to weight. Male respondents who reported an income of <$20,000 per year were 25 times less likely to perceive a risk of any disease due to weight compared with those male respondents of a higher income. Male respondents who reported their father was overweight were 15 times more likely to perceive a risk of any disease due to weight compared to other male respondents. Male respondents who reported to be overweight as a child were 21 times more likely to perceive a risk of any disease due to weight compared with other male respondents. Male respondents who perceived their current weight were 135 times less likely to perceive a risk of any disease due to weight compared with other male respondents. Body dissatisfaction variables were not associated with any perceived risk for disease due to weight variables for male respondents in multiple logistic regression analysis.

Table 4. Logistic regression models stratified by gender for selected sociodemographics, weight-related and body awareness variables among graduating college seniors by perceived risk for disease

Perceived Risk for Any Disease Due to Weight
Female (n=214) Male (n=104)

95% Confidence

95% Confidence

Characteristics

OR

Interval

OR

Interval

Demographic Variables

Income <$20,000/year

0.04* 0.00, 0.48

Age (years)

1.12 0.97, 1.29
Weight-Related Variables

BMI

1.25f 0.99, 1.58 1.34 0.87, 2.07

Any family member overweight

1.48 0.27, 8.01

Father overweight

1.86 0.51, 6.70 15.08* 1.28, 177.05

Mother overweight

0.90 0.23. 3.56

Overweight as a child

6.54** 1.97,21.76 20.53* 1.80, 234.06
Self-Perception of Body Size

Overweight self-perception

3.78* 0.93, 15.27 3.19 0.23, 44.91

Obese self-perception

1.36 0.10, 18.32 135.27* 2.02, 9,062.80

Desires upper torso to be larger

1.29 0.23, 7.35 0.49 0.02, 10.74

Number body areas desired to be smaller

0.70 0.89, 1.75 0.84 0.44, 1.60

Number body areas desired to be larger

1.25 0.28, 1.78 0.96 0.35, 2.58

Dissatisfaction with body weight

0.99 0.94, 1.05 1.05 0.96, 1.15
t p<0.06; * p<0.05; ** p<0.01; – Not associated in bivariate analysis and not included

For female respondents, multiple logistic regression analysis revealed that the perceived risk for any disease due to weight was only associated with being overweight as a child. Female respondents who reported being overweight as a child were 6.5 times more likely to perceive a risk of any disease due to weight compared with those female respondents who did not report being overweight as a child. Overweight self-perception and BMI approached statistical significance, as well.

Perceived Impact of Weight on Social Interactions Scale

We used multiple linear regression to examine whether the body size awareness and body size satisfaction were associated with perceived impact of weight on social interactions after adjusting for potentially confounding demographic and weight-related variables. Table 5 presents the results of the gender-stratified linear regression analyses for factors associated with PIWSIS scale. For male respondents, having an inaccurate self-perception of overweight was related to higher scores on this scale, which indicates a protective effect on the perceived impact of weight on social situations.
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Table 5. Regression models for weight-related variables, self-perception variables and body dissatisfaction variables among 318 college seniors by perceived impact of weight on social interactions and sex

Perceived Impact of Weight on Social Situations B* (95% CI)
Characteristics

Male

Female
Weight-Related VariablesBMI

Extremely obese BMI >40

Any family member overweight

-3.52 (-12.18, 5.15)

0.16 (-0.15, 0.47) 2.07* (0.07, 4.08)
Self-Perception of Body SizeAccuracy of Self-Perception of Body Size Inaccurate

-4.97* (-8.84,-1.10)

_
Overweight Self-Perception Yes

0.63 (-5.08, 6.33)

0.08 (-2.80, 2.97)
Obese Self-Perception Yes

-9.49 (-20.61, 1.64)

-6.37* (-12.21,-0.54)
Because of Weight Perceives Risk for Disease Strongly agree/agree

-5.65** (-9.02, -2.29)
Body Image Satisfaction VariablesNumber of body areas desired to be larger Number of body areas desired to be smaller

-0.95 (0.79, -2.52)

0.75* (0.02, 1.48)
R2             0.17 Constant    61.01 (57.56,64.47)- Not associated in bivariate analysis and not included; a: Sample size for models (male n= 0.1455.69 (49.06, 62.32) =104; females=214); * p<0.05; ** p<0.01

Female respondents with a self-perception of obesity and perceived risk for any disease due to weight had lower scores, which indicate a greater perceived impact of weight on social interaction. However, female respondents with any overweight family members and increasing number of body areas desired to be smaller had higher scores on this scale, which indicates a protective effect on the perceived impact of weight on social situations.

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