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Health Services


Shirley A. Gerrior


The prevalence of obesity among Afro-Caribbean women living in the United States Virgin Islands (USVI) is a health care issue that can have detrimental effects on society. To reverse the spread of this disease, factors contributing to its prevalence must be understood so that they can be addressed. The purpose of this cross-sectional study was to examine Afro-Caribbean women's perception of the female body size preferred by Afro-Caribbean men and the influence of that perception on the women's weight control behaviors of diet and physical activity. The reasoned action approach was the basis for the theoretical foundation. The research problem was addressed through the use of a convenience sample (n=183) using an original, validated online survey that included demographic and behavioral information, images of the female Pulvers silhouettes, and information related to diet and physical activity levels. For diet, with the addition of the covariates of income (p=.02) and education level (p=.01), women's perception of the female body size that men preferred was not significant in predicting women's weight control behaviors. For physical activity the perceived body size preferences as indicated by silhouettes 2-3 and 4, were significant predictors of using physical activity for weight control. However, this association was lost with the addition of covariate education level (p=.01). This study may contribute to social change by providing health care professionals and policy makers with a better understanding of factors that influence the weight control behaviors of Afro-Caribbean women in the USVI. The results of this study inform current literature and justify the need for further research on the topic.

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