142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition

Annual Meeting Recordings are now available for purchase

Body image and body satisfaction among overweight postpartum African American and Latina women in the Bímore Fit for Healthy Babies weight loss intervention

142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition (November 15 - November 19, 2014): http://www.apha.org/events-and-meetings/annual
Tuesday, November 18, 2014 : 9:10 AM - 9:30 AM

Janice Bowie, PhD, MPH , Program for Research on Men's Health, Hopkins Center for Health Disparities Solutions, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD


 The B’more Fit for Healthy Babies Coalition is a public health alliance of community partners focusing on obesity and infant mortality.  The coalition implemented a postpartum weight reduction intervention to help women reduce risk of future pregnancy complications, and explored body image perceptions that may influence weight loss behaviors.



Thirty African American (AA) and 8 Latina women completed a survey. Twenty attended B’more Fit regularly (attenders) and 18 had discontinued (non-attenders).  Participants reported their perceived current, ideal, and “healthiest” body image using a validated scale.  Body image is a subjective measure of body size whereas Body Mass Index is objective. Body image perceptions were compared by ethnicity and attendance.  Body satisfaction was based on a Body Discrepancy calculation. 


 A total of 86.8% (n= 33) reported a larger current body image than their ideal image.  For AA women, the mean ideal body image was larger than the mean “healthiest” image (4.5 vs. 3.9, p=0.039).AA women had greater body dissatisfaction (BD: 1.9 [0- 4]) than Latina women (BD: 1.1 [0- 3]) (p=0.964), but not statistically significant. Ideal body image was rated higher than “healthiest” among attenders (4.1 vs. 3.5, p=0.008), but not non-attenders (4.8 vs. 4.4 p=0.147). The mean “healthiest” body image was smaller for attenders versus non-attenders (3.5 vs. 4.4, p=0.013).  Body dissatisfaction was similar in both groups (BD: 1.8 vs. 1.7, p= 0.964).


 Perception of body size and other risk indicators influence behaviors and health outcomes.  Most women expressed dissatisfaction with their body, with a greater discrepancy between current and ideal among AA women. This may suggest differences between health standards and cultural preferences or postpartum weight expectations. Latinas perceived a smaller body size than AA women, and a smaller gap exists between perceived current body size and “healthiest” size among Latina women.  Latinas may view the program goals as more attainable. Attenders and non-attenders have similar current body image perceptions and ideal image; however, non-attenders perceive the “healthiest” body image as larger, which may influence participation. Findings suggest that weight loss interventions for postpartum women incorporate body image discussions to strengthen gender-based program effectiveness.

Learning Areas:

Diversity and culture
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe body image perceptions among postpartum women enrolled in a weight loss intervention. Discuss the potential value of body image and body satisfaction tools in examining weight loss strategies.

Keyword(s): Minority Health, Women's Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I serve as the evaluator for the Bmore Fit for Healthy Babies Project and was a part of the team that conducted, analyzed and disseminated the midcourse evaluation findings. I have an extensive research background in minority health issues, over 20 years.
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.