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Association between body size perception and physical activity among older, African American Women

Mary L. Greaney, PhD1, Sara Wilcox, PhD2, Donna L. Richter, EdD3, Lisa R. Yanek, MPH4, Diane M. Becker, ScD, MPH4, Roger Sargent, PhD5, and Belinda M. Reininger, DrPH6. (1) Cancer Prevention Research Center, University of Rhode Island, 2 Chafee Road, Kingston, RI 02881, 401-874-7546, mgreaney@etal.uri.edu, (2) Department of Exercise Science, University of South Carolina, Arnold School of Public Health, 1300 Wheat Street, Columbia, SC 29208, (3) Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina, Health Sciences Building, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC 29208, (4) Center for Health Promotion, Johns Hopkins University, 1830 E. Monument St, Baltimore, MD 21205, (5) University of South Carolina, Arnold School of Public Health, Health Sciences Building, Columbia, SC 29208, (6) Regional Campus at Brownsville, University of Texas- Houston School of Public Health, 1200 Herman Pressler Drive, Houston, TX 77030

Although research with college students has found that a poor body size perception is associated with lower rates of physical activity, limited research examines the relationship between body size perception and physical activity. This study examined the relationship between physical activity and body size perception of older African American women. Participants were 529 urban, women between 40 and 79 years of age who participated in a faith-based cardiovascular health program. Participantsí mean body mass index was 32.5 kg/m2 (SD=7.2), which is considered obese. Physical activity was measured using the 6-minute walk test and Yale Physical Activity Survey (YPAS). For analysis, the global scores of the YPAS (energy expenditure, activity summary, and total time summary) were used. Body size perception was measured using the Reese silhouettes, which were designed for and pilot-tested with African American women. Associations between the body size perception measures (current body size perception, body size perception discrepancy, and age specific discrepancy) and physical activity were examined with regression models. Current body size perception and age specific discrepancy were associated with energy expenditure and total time summary index (p < 0.05). Women who saw themselves as larger had lower energy expenditure and lower total time summary scores than women who saw themselves as smaller. All body size perceptions measures were associated with distance walked (p < 0.01). After adjusting for other independent variables, none of the body size perception measures was significant predictors of physical activity. Findings suggest that body perceptions are not independently associated with physical activity but may operate through other factors.

Learning Objectives: By the end of this session, participants will be able to

Keywords: Physical Activity, Health Promotion

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

Midlife Health and Wellness

The 132nd Annual Meeting (November 6-10, 2004) of APHA