Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Public Health


Epidemiology & Community Health


The current study was conducted in order to examine the impact of ethnicity on gender differences in body type preferences and perceptions and add to the literature examining racial differences in body type preferences and perceptions. The current study was an expansion of one by Gipson et al conducted at a historically Black university in 2004, in which responses and BMI measurements of 191 college students were examined for associations between BMI and gender, and body image and attitudes toward obesity. For the current study the sample of 176 college students enrolled at Virginia Commonwealth University, an ethnically diverse institution, completed two body image and attitude inventories and height and weight measurements. The sample consisted of 94 male and 82 female students between the ages of 18 and 25 years (mean=20.3 years, SD=1.9 years). Women rated their current figure as larger than their ideal, whereas men reported no discrepancy. BMI did not vary by sex or grade level. Within race, Black students (mean BMI 27.1 kg/m2) were heavier than Caucasians (23.9 kg/m2). Students generally preferred smaller figures and the students with BMIs 2 preferred the smaller figures more than did students with ≥ 25 kg/m2, however neither BMI, sex nor race favored any specific attitudes towards obesity.The study determined that body image perceptions and attitudes toward obesity vary across racial groups and that the effect of race/ethnicity on body satisfaction depends on gender. The participants may represent a more diverse group than previously tested and provide insight into racial differences.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

June 2008

Included in

Epidemiology Commons