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Devonish, J A.1; Bacharach, D W. FACSM1; McNair, M E.1

Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: May 2003 - Volume 35 - Issue 5 - p S329
G-15M Free Communication/Poster Dietary Patterns and Assessment

1St. Cloud State University, St. Cloud, MN

(Sponsor: David W. Bacharach, FACSM)

Obesity in the United States of America has reached epidemic proportions. More specifically, the rates of overweight and obesity are much higher in black female populations than white female populations. How a person views his/her own body, also referred to as body image, may be a critical element in weight control behaviors.

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To compare the body image constructs of black and white female college women by means of body dissatisfaction.

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Demographic information, skin fold measurements, and body image perceptions were collected on 76 female college students (26 ± 9 years) from two Midwest universities. Body image perceptions were ascertained through the use of 18 figural stimuli of body sizes ranging from very thin to very obese (Williamson et al.). Participants chose figures representative of current body size (CBS), ideal body size (IBS), and the healthiest looking body size (HBS). The discrepancy between CBS and IBS was indicative of body dissatisfaction (BD). Analyses were made using a one-way black vs. white MANOVA (Turkey's criterion) with age, BD, HBS, and body composition as dependent measures.

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HBS and BD did not differ between the races despite a significant difference in body composition (p<0.05). The white women were classified as overweight with a mean body composition of 24.5 ± 6.2 percent body fat. The black women met obese classifications with an average body composition of 32 ± 8.2 percent. As body composition increased, white women selected larger, more accurate current body size estimates in comparison to the black women.

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Body dissatisfaction via distorted and/or an underestimated current body size perception is a likely risk factor for obesity among black female college students.

©2003The American College of Sports Medicine