209143 Patterns of body size perception lead to innovative approach to obesity and heart diesease prevention

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Lorraine Nicole Mull, MS , Institute of Human Nutrition, Columbia University, New York, NY
Background: Knowledge and attitudes concerning heart disease, obesity and body size perceptions may vary in different cultures and communities and contribute to disproportionate rates of obesity and related heart disease in certain populations.

Methods: A cross-sectional survey was conducted at urban health centers. Knowledge of heart disease was assessed using three questions related to heart disease being the number one killer of women, signs of a heart attack and importance of accessing rapid emergency care during a heart attack. Body size perception was evaluated using the Stunkard nine-figure body image scale.

Results: The survey was completed by 240 women, mean age 47.8 (sd=14.64) years. 91.38% (212/232) were Medicare/Medicaid recipients. 95.00% (228/240) were Hispanic; 75.31% (180/239) born in the Dominican Republic. 66.23% (153/231) were overweight or obese. When split into tertiles by body mass index (BMI), years of education decreased dramatically from the first to the third tertile. Only 13.33% (32/240) could correctly answer three basic heart disease questions. 75.42% (178/236) chose an ideal self-image on the Stunkard scale smaller than their perceived body image. 47.62% (110/122) selected a figure smaller than their BMI indicated. 42.92% (97/226) selected a smaller figure than the figure an independent observer chose for them. Less than half, 47.28% (113/239), received nutrition or weight related information from their doctors.

Discussion: Improving the accuracy of body image perception while increasing knowledge of heart disease and healthy lifestyle choices could improve motivation and action to prevent heart disease. Further research comparing several populations is currently being conducted.

Learning Objectives:
1. Assess a body size perception scale 2. Analyze the link between body size perception and motivation to lose weight/stop gaining weight 3. Evaluate the link between body size perception and heart disease prevention 4. Discuss cultural differences in body size perception and heart disease knowledge 5. Design interventions aimed at correcting body size perception and preventing obesity and heart disease

Keywords: Obesity, Prevention

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I created and conducted the IRB-approved research in this study.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.