The 130th Annual Meeting of APHA

4260.0: Tuesday, November 12, 2002 - 4:48 PM

Abstract #42086

Assessment of body image in an obesity prevention program for African American girls

Mira L. Katz, PhD, MPH, Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1700 Airport Road, CB#8140, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, (919) 966-0355,, Penny Gordon-Larsen, PhD, Schools of Public Health and Medicine, 123 W. Franklin Street, Chapel Hill, NC 27516, Alice Ammerman, DrPH, RD, Department of Nutrition, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1700 Airport Road, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, Margaret E. Bentley, PhD, Nutrition, UNC-Chapel Hill, CB 7400, McGavran Greenberg, School of Public Health, Chapel Hill, NC 27514, Kristine Kelsey, PhD, RD, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Center for Development and Learning and Department of Nutrition, 1450 NC Highway, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, and Dianne S. Ward, EdD, School of Public Health Department of Nutrition, University of North Carolina, 140 Rosenau Hall, CB#7400, Chapel Hill, NC 27599.

Girls Rule! is a church-based, age and culturally appropriate obesity prevention pilot study for African American girls (age 6 to 9) and their female caregivers. To better understand body image, interviews were conducted with 12 girl-caregiver dyads and baseline measures obtained for 22 dyads. Dyads were presented with nine culturally appropriate child and adult female body silhouettes ranging from thin to heavy. The dyads selected current, ideal, and healthy body sizes representing themselves and each other. Additionally, measured heights and weights were collected and body mass index (BMI) calculated. Three themes emerged from the interviews: 1) unhealthy is fat and healthy is thin, 2) thin implies the ability to wear fashionable clothes, and 3) female caregivers are important role models. Silhouette measures suggest that the girls’ and caregivers’ perceptions of current body size correlate with the girls’ BMIs (p<0.02) and the caregivers’ BMIs (p=0.001). Perceived ideal body size was smaller than current body size for 50% of the girls and 59% of the caregivers. Thirty-nine percent of the girls selected an ideal body size smaller than the size they chose as thin and unhealthy. In this study, the desire for a smaller body size may reflect a changing attitude from previously reported acceptance of larger body sizes. African American women and girls are not immune to society’s emphasis on a thinner body size, and finding a method to address current cultural-specific issues is critical when planning obesity prevention programs.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of this presentation, the participant will be able to

Keywords: Obesity, African American

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

Body Image/Obesity in Minority Populations

The 130th Annual Meeting of APHA