Relationship of satisfaction with body size and trying to lose weight in a national survey of overweight and obese women aged 40 and older, United States

Prev Med. 2002 Oct;35(4):390-6. doi: 10.1006/pmed.2002.1079.


Background: Despite the potential benefits of weight loss, the factors associated with weight loss behavior are only beginning to be identified. We examined the association between sociodemographic factors, perceived health, satisfaction with body size, and trying to lose weight.

Methods: Data were obtained from the 1996-1997 U.S. Women's Determinants Study. We included over 1,700 overweight and obese women aged 40 and older from the following four racial/ethnic groups: Hispanic, black, American Indian/Alaskan Native, and non-Hispanic white.

Results: About half of the women reported that they were satisfied or very satisfied with their body size. Satisfaction was associated with lower body mass index (BMI), greater age, lower educational level, and better self-rated health. Compared with non-Hispanic white women, women in the other racial/ethnic groups expressed greater body satisfaction. About 65% of women reported that they were currently trying to lose weight. The strongest predictor of trying to lose weight was satisfaction with body size; women who were not satisfied were nine times more likely to report trying to lose weight than those who were very satisfied. Other significant predictors were BMI, race/ethnicity, and age.

Conclusions: Our findings should serve as the impetus for the inclusion of measures of body image in surveillance and intervention studies of weight loss and control.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Body Constitution* / ethnology
  • Body Image*
  • Ethnicity
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / psychology*
  • Personal Satisfaction*
  • United States
  • Weight Loss*