Ideal weight varies across cultures, but body image dissatisfaction pervades

October 23, 2007

Different cultures have different standards and norms for appropriate body size and shape, which can effect how children perceive their body image. Some cultures celebrate a fuller body shape more than others, but researchers at the Center for Obesity Research and Education (CORE) at Temple University have found that an overweight or obese child can still be unhappy with his or her body, despite acceptance from within their ethnic group.

“This unhappiness is yet another consequence of childhood obesity,” said Gary Foster, Ph.D., director of CORE and president-elect of the North American Association for the Study of Obesity. “These data illustrate when treating overweight children, it’s important to attend the psychological consequences that excess weight confers, no matter what the ethnic group.”

Researchers looked at data collected from 1,200 fourth-, fifth-, and sixth-graders in 10 Philadelphia schools to determine the level of satisfaction each student had with his or her body image. After students answered a questionnaire to determine how satisfied they were with their bodies, the data were analyzed, taking into account race/ethnicity, gender and weight.

The findings will be presented at The North American Association for the Study of Obesity’s 2007 Annual Scientific Meeting in New Orleans on Oct. 23. Among them: While obese and overweight children of all ethnicities were unsatisfied with their body image, Asian children had the highest levels of dissatisfaction among all ethnic groups tested.

“Culturally speaking, the ideal body shape is a lean one among Asian children,” said Foster. “In African-American and Latino cultures, being lean is not always the ideal.”

Most current studies on body image look at perceptions across one or two groups, mainly among Caucasians and African-Americans. But Foster noted that this study provides a rich sampling for a better understanding of how body image is perceived across different ethnic backgrounds.

Source: Temple University

Explore further: Drones take flight into a world of possibilities

Related Stories

A picture of health in schools

February 26, 2013

Feeling comfortable and confident in sport, health, or PE can be very difficult for some young people who can be seen as a 'risk' of becoming obese. Young people from ethnic minorities, especially girls, are more likely to ...

Belly button bacteria under the microscope

November 8, 2012

(Phys.org)—Researchers have discovered which bacteria species are most commonly found in our bellybuttons, but have still not discovered what governs which species will be found on which people. These are the first published ...

In matters of body image, one size doesn't fit all

March 22, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- While female perfection is often portrayed in the media as young, white and thin, body-image issues and eating disorders affect all ethnic groups, says a Northeastern psychologist.

Recommended for you

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.