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Ethn Dis. 2010 Summer;20(3):244-50.

Racial and ethnic differences in weight management behavior by weight perception status.

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  • 1National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Hyattsville, MD, USA. rrdorsey@gmail.com



To examine racial/ethnic differences in the relationship between weight perception and weight management behaviors among overweight and obese adults.


The study examined a nationally representative sample of 11,319 non-Hispanic White, non-Hispanic Black and Mexican American overweight and obese adults aged > or = 20 years from the 1999-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.


Body mass index (BMI, defined as weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared) was used to categorize overweight (25 < or = BMI < 30) and obesity (BMI > or = 30). Measured height and weight were used to calculate BMI. Subjects reported self-perception of weight status (correct perception and misperception) and weight management behaviors over the previous 12 months (trying to lose weight, trying not to gain weight, and having a desired weight goal). Weight perception stratified logistic regression was used to model odds of weight management behavior by race/ethnicity.


Among overweight and obese non-Hispanic White, non-Hispanic Black, and Mexican American adults, correct weight perception was positively associated with weight management behavior. In multiple logistic regression models, overweight non-Hispanic Blacks with a weight misperception were less likely to have tried to lose weight (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] = .7; 95% confidence interval [Cl] = .5,1.0) or to have tried not to gain weight (aOR = .7; 95% CI = .5,1.0) compared to overweight non-Hispanic Whites with a weight misperception. Among the obese with a misperception, non-Hispanic Blacks were less likely to desire to weigh less compared to non-Hispanic Whites (aOR = .5; 95% CI = .3,.9).


Weight perception was associated with weight management behaviors, and this relationship varied by race/ethnicity. Weight perception may need to be addressed among overweight and obese individuals to increase appropriate weight management behaviors, particularly among minority communities.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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