Does ethnicity influence body-size preference? A comparison of body image and body size

Obes Res. 2002 Mar;10(3):158-66. doi: 10.1038/oby.2002.25.


Objective: Obesity is most common in the United States among women of ethnic minority groups (black and Hispanic). Researchers have hypothesized that these subcultures are more accepting of overweight figures. The purpose of this study was to examine body image and body size assessments in a large community sample of men and women.

Research methods and procedures: Participants were 801 women and 428 men: 23% Asian, 45% Hispanic, 17% black, and 15% white. The figure rating scale was used to rate: body dissatisfaction, attractive male and female shapes, acceptable female size, and perceptions of underweight to obese female figures.

Results: Controlling for age, education, and body weight, no ethnic differences were found for men. Asian women reported less body dissatisfaction than the other groups. Women were more dissatisfied with their size than men and chose thinner female figures as attractive and acceptable.

Discussion: Ethnicity, independent of age, education, and body weight, does not influence preference for female and male shapes or tolerance for obesity.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • African Americans / psychology
  • Age Factors
  • Asian Americans / psychology
  • Body Image*
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Culture*
  • Educational Status
  • European Continental Ancestry Group / psychology
  • Female
  • Hispanic Americans / psychology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Social Class
  • Surveys and Questionnaires