The relationship between body image discrepancy and body mass index across ethnic groups

Obes Res. 2000 Nov;8(8):582-9. doi: 10.1038/oby.2000.75.


Objective: This study sought to examine at what body mass index (BMI) body image discrepancy (BD) was reported in a community sample of 389 white, Hispanic, and black women. In addition, we assessed the trajectory of the BMI-BD relationship as BMI increases by ethnic group.

Research methods and procedures: All participants were assessed on height and weight and completed the Figure Rating Scale.

Results: We found no difference in the proportion of women in each ethnic group reporting BD. However, white women experienced BD at a lower BMI level (BMI = 24.6), and below the criterion for overweight (BMI = 25). In contrast, black and Hispanic women did not report BD until they were overweight (BMIs of 29.2 and 28.5, respectively). Compared with black and white women, Hispanic women registered increases in BD at smaller increases in BMI.

Discussion: These findings could have unhealthful implications for weight control behavior. The results encourage a closer look at ethnicity and BD, and their relationship to obesity and weight control.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acculturation
  • Adult
  • African Americans
  • Body Image*
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Ethnic Groups*
  • European Continental Ancestry Group
  • Female
  • Hispanic Americans
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / ethnology*
  • Obesity / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires