Some obese people may have misperception of body size

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Washington, Nov 18 (ANI): A new research has shown that some obese people misperceive that their body size is normal and think they don't need to lose weight.

In the study of 5,893 people, researchers found that 8 percent of the 2,056 who were obese said they were satisfied with their body size or felt they could gain weight.

"Almost one in 10 obese individuals are satisfied with their body size and didn't perceive that they need to lose weight," said Tiffany Powell, M.D., lead author of the study and a cardiology fellow at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

"That is a sizeable percentage who don't understand they are overweight and believe they are healthy," Powell added.

Participants included about 50 percent blacks, 20 percent Hispanics and 30 percent whites, similar to other urban populations, Powell said.

About half - 54 percent - were women. African Americans (14 percent) and Hispanics (11 percent) were significantly more likely than whites (2 percent) to be satisfied with their body size and believe that they did not need to lose weight.

Using the sex-specific Stunkard nine-figure scale, participants chose the figure that represented their present body size and the figure that represented their ideal body size. Self-perceived ideal body size was classified as below normal, normal and above normal.

Body size discrepancy, a measure of body size satisfaction, was calculated as the difference between self-perceived actual and self-perceived ideal body sizes.

Those with a misperception of body size believed they were healthy. But 35 percent of them had high blood pressure, 15 percent had high cholesterol, 14 percent had diabetes and 27 percent were current smokers.

These risk factors are similar to obese individuals who acknowledged they had a weight problem and needed to lose weight, Powell said.

Overall, 2 percent to 3 percent of the study population perceived an above-normal body size as ideal.

Compared to subjects who perceived their ideal body size as normal, those who perceived ideal body size to be above normal were more likely to be women, African American and had higher body mass index, blood pressure and higher insulin resistance.

The research has been presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2009. (ANI)

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