Online Program

Body image dissatisfaction and associated weight-related perceptions: Implications for obesity intervention efforts

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Tricia Norkunas, MA, MPH, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, MA
Deborah Bowen, PhD, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, MA
Erynn Gordon, CGC, MS, Coriell Institute for Medical Research, Camden, NJ
Lisa Wawak, BS, Coriell Institute for Medical Research, Camden, NJ
Ching-Ti Liu, PhD, MS, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, MA
Michael R. Winter, MPH, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, MA
Robert C. Green, MD, MPH, Division of Genetics, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA
Catharine Wang, PhD, MSc, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, MA
Body image dissatisfaction (BID) is associated with decreased self-esteem yet little is known about how BID corresponds to weight-related perceptions. Data for this study are drawn from an ongoing obesity communication trial. A total of 697 individuals responded to baseline survey items pertaining to BID and weight-related perceptions. BID was assessed using the Stunkard Figure Rating Scale, wherein respondents select a figure that best reflects (A) how they think they look and (B) their ideal figure (BID=A-B). Only 13% of individuals selected the same image rating how they looked and their ideal. Almost half of the sample (49%) rated themselves as two figures above (heavier) than their ideal, with overweight and obese individuals showing disproportionally greater levels of BID (52% and 86%, respectively). Individuals with higher BID perceived themselves to be at greater risk for becoming obese, were more worried about gaining weight, and perceived less control over their chances for becoming obese. Greater BID also corresponded to lower self-efficacy in controlling one's weight. Those with higher BID were significantly less likely to endorse fruit and vegetable consumption and more likely to endorse diet pills and gastric bypass surgery as an effective means to control weight. Although higher BID was associated with greater intentions to lose weight, the methods endorsed were based on pharmaceutical or surgical approaches for weight loss rather than lifestyle approaches. BID appears to be highly prevalent and may undermine public health efforts to address the obesity epidemic.

Learning Areas:

Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Define body image dissatisfaction. Describe the relationship between body image dissatisfaction and BMI. Evaluate how BID is associated with various weight-related perceptions.

Keyword(s): Obesity, Psychological Indicators

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been employed and mentored by the other authors on this abstract, whom are principals on several federally funded grants, focusing on areas such as obesity prevention and communicating health information to the public.
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.