Social Influence and Weight Misperception in Overweight and Obese Young Adult Women Open Access

Lerner, Hannah Michelle (2014)

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Aim: The purpose of this study is to explore the effect of social influences on body image disturbance in young adult women. Specifically, we examined the perception accuracy of overweight and obese young adult women considered by friend group BMI.

Methods: Participants were recruited from the greater Atlanta area using paper flyers placed in 8 colleges and universities, and e-flyers through a university email list, as part of a larger study of the development of diabetes prevention in young adults. For the current study, data from 43 young adult women aged 18-29 were used. Anthropometric assessment by a trained nurse was performed to obtain BMI. The Body Image Assessment Tool- Body Dimension (BIAS-BD) assessed perceived and ideal body sizes for individuals and peers. Descriptive statistics and a two-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) was performed on perception accuracy and friend group BMI.

Results: Participants that were categorized as overweight had a significantly higher mean misperception (-6.009) than obese 1 and obese 2 and 3 participants (-2.784, .6744), F (2,40)= 11.291, p=.000. There is no statistically significant difference between mean ideal BMI between the young women with normal and overweight/obese friend groups (t=-.654, p=.528). Friend group BMI also did not play a statistically significant role in perceived BMI or perception accuracy (t=-.238, p=.813; t=.168, p=.867).

Conclusion: This study was the first to attempt to understand the effect social influence has on weight misperception in young adult women. This study offered the first look into how peer BMI affected young adult women's weight misperception. Clinicians should be aware of the differences in perception accuracy of overweight and obese women. They should create an atmosphere of weight loss that can support overweight women to accurately perceive their body image. For obese women, interventions should target increasing body dissatisfaction and self esteem not perception accuracy.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Background 2

The Obesity Epidemic in American Young Adults and its Health Effects 2

Obesity and Social Influence 3 Body Image in Overweight and Obese Young Adults 4

Body Image and Social Influences in Obese and Overweight Young Adults 5

Methods 9 Recruitment and Eligibility Criteria 9 Variables and Measures 9 Statistical Analysis 10 Results 12 Descriptive Statistics 12 Accuracy of Actual Body Size Perception 12

How Friend Group BMI affects Perception Accuracy, Actual Body Size, and Ideal Body Size 13

Discussion 16 Conclusion 20 References 21

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