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J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2009 Aug;18(8):1145-51. doi: 10.1089/jwh.2008.1179.

Correlates of obesity and body image in Colombian women.

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  • 1Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.



To examine the sociodemographic correlates of overweight and obesity as well as body shape perception in women from Bogotá, Colombia.


The sample (n = 671) represented low-income and middle-income women, aged 21-55 years, living in Bogotá, who had children in the public school system. We measured height and weight to calculate body mass index (BMI, kg/m(2)) and defined two dichotomous outcomes: overweight/obesity (BMI >or=25) and obesity (BMI >or=30). Women reported sociodemographic information and used the Stunkard Figure Rating Scale to identify the silhouette that most closely resembled their body shape (current), what they would like to look like (ideal), and what they considered healthiest (healthiest). We estimated body dissatisfaction by subtracting the ideal from the current scores.


The prevalences of overweight/obesity and obesity, based on measured height and weight, were 41.9% and 11.6%, respectively. Age, being married, and being born in Bogotá were positively associated with overweight/obesity but not with obesity alone, whereas the number of household assets and parity were both positively related to obesity. Women with higher education or who lived in wealthier neighborhoods identified ideal shapes that were thinner than those identified by their less educated or poorer counterparts (p = 0.03 and p = 0.004, respectively). Higher education was also associated with the selection of thinner body shapes as healthiest (p = 0.02). BMI and education were both positively related to body dissatisfaction (p < 0.0001 and p = 0.04, respectively).


Indicators of higher socioeconomic status (SES) (e.g., having more household assets) are associated with obesity. Perception of slimmer body shapes as ideal and healthiest and higher body dissatisfaction are associated with higher education.

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