259672 BMI status and expectations about weight gain and peer acceptance of body diversity among black female incoming college students

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Phoebe Butler-Ajibade, EdD , Human Performance & Leisure Studies, North Carolina A & T State University, Greensboro, NC
Jennifer Webb, PhD , Department of Psychology, UNC Charlotte, Charlotte, NC
Seronda Robinson, PhD , Department of Public Health Education, North Carolina Central University, Durham, NC
Black college women appear to be disproportionately affected by overweight and obesity. Research has yet to clarify how elevated weight among prospective black college women may affect beliefs about anticipated weight-related changes during the first-year transition and views on future college peers' acceptance of various body sizes. The current study sought to address these evidentiary gaps in a sample of 209 black female recent high school graduates (M = 17.9 years, SD = 0.47) planning to attend a North Carolina HBCU. Descriptive analyses documented prevalence rates of overweight and obesity at 19.2% and 25% respectively. Roughly 84% of participants agreed that weight gain (M = 15.3 lbs., SD = 6.13) was a common first-year experience. In terms of weight change expectancies, more overweight (57.5%) and obese (71.2%) participants believed they would lose weight versus the underweight/normal weight participants (6%) during their first college year. Females with heavier body weights also tended to express both greater concern about weight loss (p < 0.001) and weight gain (p < 0.01) during this transition. Perceived male and female college peers' acceptance was rated between "somewhat" and "moderately" accepting across the three groups. These findings raise important questions about the role of peers in black females' views regarding their weight. Additional questions regarding the views that black females lack weight concern evolve. Implications of this study will be described.

Learning Areas:
Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Diversity and culture
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
1. Identify the expectations about changes in weight among black females planning to attend college. 2. Describe the relationship body mass index (BMI) and perceptions of peer’s attitudes towards body diversity among black female college students. 3. Describe the implications of the findings for university wellness programming and identify research questions for future university interventions on weight management among this population.

Keywords: Obesity, Psychological Indicators

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have conducted extensive research and college based programming on student health and black college students during the past 10 years. I have three recent peer reviewed publications on BMI and weight among African American females. I am an assistant professor at North Carolina A & T University Human Performance and Leisure Studies Department.
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.