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Obes Res. 1994 Mar;2(2):127-34.

Body size perceptions and eating attitudes in elderly men.

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  • 1Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, CB 7400, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA.


The majority of studies on eating attitudes, dieting and body size perceptions have focused on young adults and women. This study examined these attitudes in 334 black and white men, ages 55 to 98 years, who were members of the Charleston Heart Study cohort. Associations of the eating attitude variable with race, education and weight status were examined. Eighty-two percent of the overweight white men studied had dieted to lose weight, whereas only 49% of slimmer white men had dieted. In contrast, overweight black men did not diet more than slimmer black men. Overall black men dieted less than white men (37% reported dieting). Black men who were high school graduates were 1.3 times more likely to have dieted than were less educated black men. Overweight white men were over twice as likely as slimmer white men to feel guilty after overeating. This difference was not found in overweight versus slimmer black men. Education was not associated with measured body mass index (BMI) or perceived or ideal body size. However, there were some racial differences in these variables. White men preferred to be slightly thinner than black men (ideal BMI 25.6 vs. 26.1 kg/m2), and the difference between actual and desired BMI was 0.6 kg/m2 greater in white than in black men. These results indicate that effects of race and weight status on eating restraint and body size perceptions seen in younger subjects and in women are also present, at least to some degree, in elderly men.

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