Objective: To assess body size perception among African American women using cultural definitions of body size terms.
Methods: Sixty-nine African American women classified Body Image Scale figures as overweight, obese, and too fat, and independently selected the figure they considered closest to their current body size.
Results: Body size classifications of figures did not vary by participant weight status. Overweight figures were not considered too fat. For 86% of overweight (body mass index [BMI], 25-29.9) women and 40% of obese (BMI > 30) women, the self figure was not defined as overweight, obese, or too fat. Among participants with BMI ≥ 35, 65% did not classify their self figure as obese and 29% did not classify their self figure as overweight.
Conclusions and implications: The difference between cultural (folk) and medical definitions of body size terms may serve as a barrier to effective communication between patients and providers about health effects of excess adiposity.
Keywords: African American women; body image; body mass index; overweight; weight perception.
Copyright © 2014 Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.