Development of a culturally relevant body image instrument among urban African Americans

Obes Res. 2004 Oct;12(10):1641-51. doi: 10.1038/oby.2004.204.


Objective: To validate a culturally relevant body image instrument among urban African Americans through three distinct studies.

Research methods and procedures: In Study 1, 38 medical practitioners performed content validity tests on the instrument. In Study 2, three research staff rated the body image of 283 African-American public housing residents (75% women, mean age = 44 years), with the residents completing body image, BMI, and percentage body fat measures. In Study 3, 35 African Americans (57% men, mean age = 42) completed body image measures and evaluated their cultural relevance.

Results: In Study 1, 97% to 100% of practitioners sorted the jumbled figures into the correct ascending order. The correlation between the body image figures and the practitioners' weight classifications of the figures was high (r = 0.91). In Study 2, observers arrived at similar ratings of body size with excellent consistency (alpha = 0.95). Ratings of body image were strongly correlated with participant BMI (r = 0.89 to 0.93 across observers and 0.81 for all participants) and percentage of body fat (r = 0.77 to 0.89 across observers and 0.76 for all participants). In Study 3, body image ratings with the new scale were positively correlated with other validated figural scales. The majority of participants reported that figures in the new body image scale looked most like themselves and other African Americans and were easiest to identify themselves with.

Discussion: The instrument displayed strong psychometric performance and cultural relevance, suggesting that the scale is a promising tool for examining body image and obesity among African Americans.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Black or African American / psychology*
  • Body Image*
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Cultural Characteristics
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Obesity / ethnology*
  • Obesity / psychology
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity