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Chigbu, Chibuike Ogwuegbu; Aniebue, Uzochukwu U.; Berger, Ursula; Parhofer, Klaus G. (March 2019): Impact of perceptions of body size on obesity and weight management behaviour: a large representative population study in an African setting. In: Journal of Public Health, Vol. 43, No. 1, e54-e61
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Abstract

Background: Perception of body size is an important psycho-cultural cause of obesity with wide racial and ethnic variations. Method: Cross-sectional household survey using multistage cluster-randomised sampling. Prevalence estimates were weighted. Logistic regressions were done to determine the impact of perception of large body size on obesity and the impact of perception of own body size on weight-management behaviour. Adjusted odds ratios (AOR) were reported. Results: The survey involved 6628 adults from 2843 households. More than a quarter of the population is either obese or overweight. Nearly half, 44.07% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 42.48-45.66%) of the population perceive large body size as desirable. Positive perception of large body size significantly increases the odds of obesity by 1.5 (AOR: 1.45; 95% CI: 1.09-1.9). Some 42.03% (95% CI: 35.52-48.55%) obese persons misperceive their weight to be normal. Perceiving own body size as normal decreases the odds of weight-losing behaviour (AOR: 0.019; 95% CI: 0.014-0.026). Conclusion: There is a high level of veneration of large body size in southeast Nigeria, and this has a significant impact on obesity burden. Perception of own body size has a significant impact on weight-management behaviour. Health-promotion policies aimed at changing the social desirability of large body size and misperception of body size are recommended.