248681 Perception of Body Image as a Tool for Health Education to Help Reduce the Obesity Epidemic among HBCU College Students

Wednesday, November 2, 2011: 1:24 PM

Sherine R. Brown, PhD , School of Community Health and Policy, Nutritional Sciences Program, Morgan State University, Baltimore, MD
Mian B. Hossain, PhD , Biostatistics, School of Community Health and Policy, Baltimore, MD
Yvonne L. Bronner, ScD , School of Community Health and Policy, Morgan State University, Baltimore, MD
INTRODUCTION. Overweight and obesity have reached epidemic levels in the U.S. African-Americans are disproportionately represented in these categories increasing their risk for early onset of disease and disability. Literature indicates that perception of a ‘large body image' may be a health factor perpetuating this problem. This study's aim is to determine the association between perception of ‘healthy” body image, ‘current' body image and current body size as assessed by measured BMI among freshmen students at an HBCU.

METHODS. Cross-sectional study design was used with measured height and weight as the basis for calculating BMI. Freshman students (n=367) were asked to select the Pulver's body image scale (r= 0.89) that best represented a healthy body image and their current body image. Body image responses were compared with their actual BMI derived body image. Kappa statistic was used for comparing perceived ‘healthy' and ‘ideal' body image with actual body size.

RESULTS. Most students perceived their body shape as normal (69%), compared to 19% perceiving themselves as overweight. Responses to the Pulver body image scale demonstrated 39% of students self-indicating normal weight, versus 61% of students self-indicating overweight and obese. Over 50% of students considered the body images for overweight/obesity to be ‘healthy'.

DISCUSSION. HBCU freshmen students perceive a larger body image as ‘healthy' compared with reports in literature of other populations. An unrealistic view of one's body image may be associated with increased risk of obesity. Therefore, early and intensive intervention within this population is critical to curbing the national obesity epidemic.

Learning Areas:
Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Chronic disease management and prevention
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Determine whether perceived body image is correlated to actual body image, BMI, and obesity

Keywords: Obesity, Nutrition

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present because I am a full professor of the Behavior Health Sciences Program within our university’s School of Community Health and Policy. My research areas include: Nutrition assessment of school children; role and appropriate utilization of Community Health Workers in WIC; application of community-based participatory research methods in developing, implementing, and evaluating obesity interventions; role of fathers in breastfeeding promotion among African American families; epidemiological investigation of African American dietary knowledge, attitudes, beliefs and practices.
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.