Perceived body image and weight: discrepancies and gender differences among University undergraduates|
Maruf, FA; Akinpelu, AO & Nwankwo, MJ
Background: Body image (BI) is a multidimensional construct that includes perceptual, attitudinal, behavioural components,
and feedback from other people’s perception of oneself. The feedback from others and the degree to which one accepts or
rejects it can determine self evaluation and perception. Body weight perception is a strong determinant of nutritional habits
and weight management among adolescents. One of the barriers to reducing rise in obesity prevalence could be its cultural
acceptability in some developing countries.
Objective: To explore the gender influences on perception of self- and opposite-sex body images (BI), perceived body
weight and the actual body weight categories at which discrepancies occur among the perceived BIs in undergraduates.
Methods: This was a survey of perceptual dimension of BI, perceived body weight and actual body weight carried out in
121 undergraduates aged 21-29years.
Results: Discrepancies occurred between self-perceived BI and each of actual body weight (p= 0.00 at 0.00-0.02 confidence
interval (CI)), perceived body weight (p= 0.01 at 0.000-0.02 CI) and self-ideal BI (p= 0.03 at 0.000-0.05 CI) of normalweight
males. Self-perceived BI and perceived body weight also differed in normal-weight females (p= 0.02 at 0.000-0.04
CI). Discrepancies (p= 0.02 at 0.00-0.04 CI) occurred between self-perceived BI and self-ideal BI, and between self-perceived
BI and desired BI (p= 0.02 at 0.00-0.04 CI) in overweight females. Gender differences occurred for self-ideal BI (p= 0.00 at
0.00-0.02 CI), ideal image for the opposite sex (IBIOS) (p= 0.02 at 0.00-0.04 CI) and desired BI (p= 0.00 at 0.00-0.02 CI).
Conclusion: Normal-weight males perceived their BI differently from their actual body weight, perceived body weight and
self-ideal BI whereas normal-weight females perceived their BI differently from only their perceived body weight. Discrepancies
occur between self-ideal BI and self-perceived BI, and between self-perceived BI and desired BI in overweight females. There
are differential perceptions of self-ideal BI, IBIOS and desired BI between males and females.
Perceived body Image, opposite sex, perceived body weight