Send to

Choose Destination
Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2000 May;24(5):593-9.

Ethnic differences in perceptions of body size in middle-aged European, Maori and Pacific people living in New Zealand.

Author information

Department of Statistics, University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland, New Zealand.



The aim of this study was to compare perceptions of body size in European, Maori and Pacific Islands people with measured body mass index (BMI), waist-to-hip ratio and change in BMI since age 21 y. Socio-demographic factors that influenced perceptions of body size were also investigated.


Cross-sectional survey.


Participants were 5554 workers, aged > or =40 y, recruited from companies in New Zealand during 1988-1990.


Prevalences of BMI>25 kg/m2 were: Europeans, 64.7% men, 47.2% women; Maori, 93.2% men, 80.6% women; and Pacific Islanders, 94.1% men, 92.9% women. Similarly, prevalences of BMI >30 kg/m2 were: Europeans, 14.4% men, 14.6% women; Maori, 55.0% men, 41.9% women; and Pacific Islanders, 55.1% men, 71.7% women. At each perception of body size category, Maori and Pacific Islands men and women had a higher BMI than European men and women, respectively. BMI increased with increasing perception of body size in all gender and ethnic groups. Since age 21, increases in BMI were highest in Pacific Islands people and increased with increasing perceptions of body size category in all ethnic and gender groups. BMI adjusted odds (95% CI) of being in a lower perception category for body size were 1.70 (1.38-2.12) in Maori and 8.99 (7.30-11.09) in Pacific people compared to Europeans, 1.27 (1.13-1.42) times higher for people with no tertiary education, 1.41 (1.25-1.59) times higher in people with low socioeconomic status, and 0.94 (0.92- 0.95) for change in BMI since age 21.


Nutritional programs aimed at reducing levels of obesity should be ethnic-specific, addressing food and health in the context of their culture, and also take into account the socioeconomic status of the group. On the population level, obesity reduction programs may be more beneficial if they are aimed at the maintenance of weight at age 21.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Loading ...
Support Center