Online Program

Weight status misperceptions among African immigrants in a midwestern metropolitan city

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Olabode Ayodele, MPH, Ph.D, CHES, Department of Applied Health Sciences, Indiana State University, Terre Haute, IN
Darleesa Doss, Ph.D., MPH, CHES, Department of Applied Health Sciences, Indiana State University, Terre Haute, IN
Matthew Hutchins, Ph.D, Department of Applied Health Sciences, Indiana State University, Terre Haute, IN
Background: Perception of weight status is an important factor in adoption of healthful weight related attitudes and behaviors; this may be influenced by culture and ethnicity. In this study population, information about self-perception of weight appropriateness is limited. We assessed the prevalence of weight status misperceptions, and the predictive effects of sociodemographic variables on weight status misperceptions among a sample of African immigrants.

Methods: A cross sectional study of a random sample of 104 African immigrants resident in Indianapolis, Indiana was conducted using a mailed survey. Participants' body mass index (BMI) was computed from self-reported heights and weights and categorized (underweight, normal weight, overweight, or obese) following conventional cutpoints. In addition, each surveyed individual was asked to assess their own weight status based on these categories. Weight status misperceptions were determined by identifying the discrepancies between their self-assessed weight status and their calculated BMI weight status. Logistic regression analyses were used to assess associations. Multiple logistic regression analysis was performed to assess effects of the sociodemographic variables. 

Results: The study participants comprised of 55.8% males with a mean age of 35.6 (SD = 11.6), 41.4% single, 49.5% married, and 9.1% divorced or separated. Seventy percent of the study participants were overweight or obese. Sixty percent of the participants misclassified their weight status; 64.5% of overweight participants and 95% of obese participants perceived themselves to be normal weight. The multiple logistic regression analysis revealed that higher BMI (overweight/obese), age, and marital status were significantly associated with self-perception of weight status.

Conclusions: Our results suggest a substantial discordance between calculated BMI and self-perceived weight status in this study population. Programs aimed at promoting behavioral changes to reduce weight in this population should focus on modifying perceptions of normal weight.

Learning Areas:

Diversity and culture
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Assess the prevalence of weight status misperceptions and the predictive effects of socio-demographic variables on African immigrants misperceptions of their weight status.

Keyword(s): Immigrant Health, Weight Management

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: My research works focus on social and behavioral epidemiology and I teach Epidemiology and Biostatistics.
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.