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Amburgey, Kimberly
Amburgey, Kimberly (2009) AN EXPLORATION OF BODY IMAGE PERCEPTION IN AN AFRICAN AMERICAN POPULATION. Masters Thesis thesis, University of Pittsburgh.
This study examined body image perception among participants of the Healthy Black Family Project (HBFP) through the Center for Minority Health. As part of this examination, body image perception of the participants' social networks, differences between ethnicities, and the association of disease risk with body image perception were studied. METHODS: The participants' perceptions of body image were assessed using responses in words as well as pictures. Body image satisfaction was assessed by comparing current and ideal bodies selected from a pictorial scale. Chi-square analysis and Fisher's Exact tests were performed to assess the accuracy of the participants' perceptions of body image in comparison to measured BMI. Body image perceptions of the social networks were compared with the participants' perceived and measured BMI using ANOVA and linear regression analysis. Comparisons between ethnicities were also assessed using Fisher's Exact test and 95% confidence intervals. Risk perception between weight categories was assessed using ANOVA and Fisher's Exact tests.RESULTS: This analysis revealed body image perceptions underestimated measured BMI's. Consistent with other published studies, females wished to lose weight, while males wished to remain the same or gain weight. Obese participants were more accurate in assessing their weight category using the pictorial scale, while normal weight participants were more accurate in words. The majority of social networks were perceived as obese and participants of both genders associated with female family members of similar size. HBFP participants perceived larger bodies as obese than a previously studied Caucasian population and female participants chose larger bodies as ideal. Disease risks were not consistently associated with body image perceptions.CONCLUSIONS: In this population, significant differences in body image perception exist. Accuracy of body image differs between weight categories and body image satisfaction differs between genders. In contrast to Caucasian populations, different perceptions of obesity exist and larger female bodies are perceived as ideal. PUBLIC HEALTH SIGNIFICANCE: Programs involving disease prevention and weight management should involve components of body image perception education. In order for these education programs to be more effective, they should include factors that encompass differences in ethnicity, gender, and weight class.