With obesity reaching epidemic numbers, cultural marketing has long been attempting to tell women that they're beautiful no matter what size they are. Perception is about to run up against medical health, according to a new study out of Temple University.
In the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology research, Temple researchers studied the body image perceptions of 81 underweight, normal weight, overweight or obese women in the North Philadelphia area and found that as their body mass index (BMI) increased, two-thirds of the women still felt they were at an ideal body size.
"So the question for doctors then becomes, 'How can we effectively treat our overweight and obese patients, when they don't feel they're in harm's way?'" said study researcher Marisa Rose, M.D., assistant professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences in the Temple University School of Medicine. "It stresses a need for culturally sensitive education for this population."
All participants were measured for height and weight and completed an anonymous survey to determine their self-perceived, current and ideal body sizes. Each woman was then shown an illustration of different-sized women that correlated with increasing BMIs, and were asked which size they felt they were at currently, and what their ideal would be.
While most of the participants selected illustrations of women in the normal to overweight range, about 20 percent of the obese women selected an overweight or obese silhouette as their ideal body shape. Further, 68 percent (15 out 22) of overweight participants and 84 percent (26 of 31) of obese women underestimated their current BMI. African-American and Hispanic women had significantly underestimated their current body size, while the white women overestimated.
Rose and her fellow researchers say this is the first study to evaluate body image discrepancy specifically in the inner-city population of women seeking gynecologic care.
"For this group, gynecologists often serve as the primary care provider as well," said Rose. "As more women become obese and overweight, it becomes critical for gynecologists to know how to talk to their patients about the adverse effects of obesity."
The researchers say that their next course of action is to determine from a more diverse population whether the trend of women incorrectly perceiving their body size extends to most underweight, overweight and obese women or whether the trend is specific to the inner-city population.
"Informing our patients about the dangers of obesity, even when they feel they're not at risk, can help empower them to change their lifestyles and lead healthier lives," said Rose.
Other authors on the study were: Sushma Potti, M.D.; Marina Milli, M.D.; Stacey Jeronis, M.D.; and John P. Gaughan, Ph.D of Temple University School of Medicine.
- PHYSICAL SCIENCES
- EARTH SCIENCES
- LIFE SCIENCES
- SOCIAL SCIENCES
Subscribe to the newsletter
Stay in touch with the scientific world!
Know Science And Want To Write?
- ATLAS Higgs Challenge Results
- Radical Rethink: Sugars Are The Only Cause Of Tooth Decay
- The Chicxulub Meteorite Killed The Dinosaurs But Made Forests Great
- Life After The 125 GeV Higgs: What Is Left Of Two-Higgs Doublet Models
- Genetically Modified Wheat, Without The GMO Drama
- It's Almost 2015 - So Where Is My Hoverboard?
- No books for you! City Colleges of Chicago Students.
- "That's why biologists say survive of the fitter instead - if a bear is chasing us, I don't need..."
- "I grew up in Dodgertown - it was Dodgertown even before they moved to LA - so I have always been..."
- "I confess to being a Dodger's fan. Lifelong. And the Dodgers have occasionally won the (so-called)..."
- "No one objected to that while even one Think Progress reader was up in arms about slamming them..."
- "Survival of the fittest always applies (fit = ability to produce viable offspring). The thing is..."
- The Lancet: Scientists use modern forensic techniques to identify most likely cause of King Richard III's death
- Urine HPV test could offer non-invasive alternative to conventional smear, improve screening uptake
- Diabetes complications make patients more likely to fall down stairs
- Study shows users of insulin pumps are at 29 percent lower risk of death compared with patients on insulin injections
- Focus on treatment costs, value: Less radiation for elderly women with early breast cancer