BMI-based norms for a culturally relevant body image scale among African Americans

Kim Pulvers, Jennifer Bachand, Nicole Nollen, Hongfei Guo, Jasjit S Ahluwalia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


The present study provides body mass index (BMI) standards for interpreting culturally relevant body image figure scores among African American men and women. Concordance between participants' and independent raters' figure selection is evaluated and the sensitivity and specificity of the figures for predicting overweight status are reported. African American adults (n. =. 498, 71% female) selected the figure most closely resembling them currently, and had their height and weight measured to calculate BMI. Three independent raters selected the figure that most closely resembled a subset of the participants (n. =. 277, 75% female). Probability that overweight status was correctly identified was 85% for participants and 98% for raters. ROC analysis showed that figures selected by raters (86%) and participants (83%) were equally sensitive in predicting overweight status using the gold standard, BMI. Figures selected by raters (98%) were more specific in predicting overweight status than when selected by participants (75%). Considerations in using participant- or rater-based norms for interpreting figure scores are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)437-440
Number of pages4
JournalEating Behaviors
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Dr. Ahluwalia is supported by the National Institute for Minority Health Disparities (NIMHD/NIH — 1P60MD003422 ). Dr. Guo is supported by a grant from the National Center for Research Resources (award number UL1RR033183 ). Dr. Pulvers and Dr. Nollen were supported by the University of Minnesota for writing the manuscript.

Funding Information:
We thank the Kansas City, KS and Kansas City, MO Housing Authority, participating housing development managers and residents, health fair staff, University of Kansas Medical Center family medicine physicians, registered dietitians, and research staff, and Swope Health Central patrons and research staff. This study was supported by a grant from the NIH ( R01 CA 85930 ).


  • African American
  • BMI
  • Body image
  • Body size
  • Figure
  • Perception


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