Relation of self-image to body size and weight loss attempts in black women: The CARDIA study

Nikki M. Riley, Diane E. Bild, Lawton Cooper, Pamela Schreiner, Delia E. Smith, Paul Sorlie, J. Kevin Thompson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


It has been suggested that the prevalence of obesity in black women is high partly because self-image in black women is not strongly dependent on body size. To determine associations between self-image, body size, and dieting behavior among black women, the authors assessed an Appearance Evaluation Subscale (AES) score (range, 1-5), a Body Image Satisfaction (BIS) score (range, 2-11), and reported dieting behavior in a population-based sample of 1,143 black women aged 24-42 years from the fourth follow-up examination (1992-1993) of the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) Study. Lower AES and BIS scores indicate poorer self-image and lower body size satisfaction, respectively. After adjustment for age, education, smoking, and physical activity, women in the lowest, middle, and highest tertiles of body mass index (weight (kg)/height (m)2) had mean AES scores of 3.7, 3.3, and 2.9, respectively (p < 0.001), and mean BIS scores of 7.8, 6.7, and 5.9, respectively (p < 0.001). After additional control for body mass index as a continuous variable, both AES and BIS scores were inversely related to ever dieting, current dieting, and previous weight loss of 10 pounds (4.5 kg) or more in all tertiles of body mass index. These results suggest that among black women, a higher body mass index is associated with poorer self-image and lower body size satisfaction and that these perceptions may be an avenue to promoting weight control.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1062-1068
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican journal of epidemiology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Dec 1 1998


  • Blacks
  • Body constitution
  • Body image
  • Body mass index
  • Self concept
  • Weight loss
  • Weight perception
  • Women


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