Ideal weight varies across cultures, but body image dissatisfaction pervades

Oct 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: New research demonstrates benefits of national and international device registries

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

A picture of health in schools

Feb 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

Nov 08, 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 ...

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

Mar 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

New approach to particle therapy dosimetry

22 hours ago

Researchers at the National Physical Laboratory (NPL), in collaboration with EMRP partners, are working towards a universal approach to particle beam therapy dosimetry.

Supplement maker admits lying about ingredients

Dec 17, 2014

Federal prosecutors say the owner and president of a dietary supplement company has admitted his role in the sale of diluted and adulterated dietary ingredients and supplements sold by his company.

User comments : 0

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.