Study Examines Weight Misperceptions by Race, Gender
Sixty percent of overweight or obese black men believe their weight is within normal range, according to a report released Wednesday during the Indiana Public Health Association's annual conference, the Indianapolis Star reports.
For the report, researchers from Indiana University School of Medicine's Bowen Research Center surveyed 4,785 English- and Spanish-speaking adults in Marion County, Ind., to examine differences in perceptions of weight and actual weight. Among all men, two-thirds were overweight, though fewer than half said they thought they were overweight. Half of white men and about half of Hispanic men also thought they were of normal weight, when in fact they were overweight or obese. Among all races, black men had the strongest misperception about their weights, the study found.
Among all women, 55% were overweight, though two-thirds said they thought they were overweight. Roughly 40% of black women, 16% of whites and 11% of Hispanics thought they were of normal weight when in fact they were overweight or obese. One-fifth of white women and one-fourth of Hispanic women considered themselves to be overweight when they actually were in normal weight range, according to the study.
Terrell Zollinger, a professor in Indiana University's Department of Family Medicine, attributed the misperception among men to societal beliefs that they are supposed to be bigger in size, the Star reports. Co-researcher Bimpe Olanrewaju said the disparity likely is tied to cultural norms, as it often is more acceptable in black culture to be curvy or husky. The findings indicate that a one-size-fits-all approach to addressing obesity will be ineffective, Olanrewaju said (Berggoetz, Indianapolis Star, 5/10).