Body-image perceptions among urban Native American youth.


OBJECTIVE: This study investigated body-image perceptions among Native American youth. RESEARCH METHODS AND PROCEDURES: A modified and validated body-image measure for use with Native American youth was utilized in a cross-sectional assessment of 155 urban Native American youth attending an after-school program in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The youth (ages 5 to 18 years) expressed their perceptions of current and ideal body image, which allowed assessment of satisfaction or dissatisfaction. Body sizes perceived as healthy or most likely to develop diabetes were also communicated. Heights and weights were measured, and body mass index was calculated. RESULTS: When asked to identify their ideal body figure, younger children selected thinner figures than adolescents, and overweight youth chose ideal figures similar to those of normal-weight youth. The mean body dissatisfaction of the youth was +/-0.99 and +/-1.49 body figures for boys and girls, respectively. Examination of the direction of body dissatisfaction revealed that 41% of the boys and 61% of the girls expressed a desire to be thinner. Those expressing the greatest dissatisfaction were overweight girls (>95th percentile). On a scale from one to eight, the median of the body image viewed as the healthiest was 4.0, whereas that most likely to develop diabetes was 8.0. DISCUSSION: These results suggest that urban Native American youth are dissatisfied with their body size and that most acknowledge the diabetes risk associated with overweight, which implies that they may be receptive to obesity prevention measures.

Location Description: 

Midwestern United States; Minnesota MN