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J Natl Med Assoc. 2010 Feb;102(2):119-24.

Perception of weight and threat to health.

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  • 1Morehouse School of Medicine, 720 Westview Dr, Atlanta, GA 30310, USA.



To examine African American women's perception of their risk for obesity-related comorbid illnesses compared to their weight category.


Participants were recruited from urban health centers in Atlanta, Georgia. Anthropometric measurements and self-reported demographics, medical conditions, and health beliefs about obesity and its related comorbid diseases were recorded.


More than 80% of the women (N=323) were either overweight or obese. Among overweight women, 44% reported being a normal weight. Seventy-two percent of the obese women reported being overweight, and 13.6% reported that they were obese. All women reported that each disease was "very serious;" however, overweight women reported having the same risk for each disease as normal weight women. Obese women reported having a higher risk of each disease (p < .05 for all diseases).


Overweight and obese women underestimate their weight categories. Overweight, but not obese, women reported the same perceived susceptibility for obesity-related comorbid diseases as normal-weight women. An increase in the perceived threat to health may motivate women to increase prevention efforts in the early stage of overweight to prevent or delay morbidity or mortality.

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