Beliefs About Personal Weight Among African American Women

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The rate of obesity within the United States is dropping, yet the prevalence of obesity among young African American women continues to increase. This increase, in part, may be attributable to weight beliefs. The relationship between beliefs about personal weight and body mass index (BMI) was examined among 150 African American women, 18 to 40 years of age using weight descriptive characteristics, causal attributions, consequences, and calculated BMI. Key results show that the majority of participants described their weight as attractive, healthy, and normal despite a sample mean BMI in the obese category. Key beliefs about the causes of personal weight that were associated and predictive of BMI were unhealthy eating behaviors, limited physical activity, weight left from pregnancy, and not knowing how to maintain a healthy weight. Beliefs about the consequences of personal weight were not predictive of BMI. A discussion of study findings provides important implications for clinical practice.

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