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Body Image. 2006 Dec;3(4):395-400. Epub 2006 Sep 7.

Body size preferences and sociocultural influences on attitudes towards obesity among Moroccan Sahraoui women.

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Training and Research Unit on Food Sciences, Laboratory of Physiology Applied to Nutrition and Feeding, Chouaib Doukkali University, School of Sciences, El Jadida 24000, Morocco.


The purpose of this investigation was to study body size preferences and to examine the influence of sociocultural factors on obesity among 249 Moroccan Sahraoui women. Participants rated their ideal body size and the size they thought to be "healthy," using a figural scale consisting of nine images ranging from thin to obese. They also noted which particular sociocultural influences affected their body size ratings. The results indicated that women's rating of ideal body size (4.88) was significantly larger than their rating of healthy body size (4.33). The desire to lose weight was very low even among the majority of obese women, and educational level did not affect desire to lose weight. Women not satisfied with their body size were more likely to report trying to gain weight rather than to lose it. The major factors reported to influence body size ideal were mothers, men, and traditional clothing. It is an enormous challenge for the health institutions of Morocco to prevent obesity and its complications. Prevention programs should include teenagers and key family members.

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