Sex differences in weight perception and weight gain among Black college students in the USA


Objective: The aims of this study were to examine the prevalence of overweight/obesity and to explore sex differences in body weight perceptions and correlates of weight gain among Black students at 2 historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in the USA.

Methods: Participants completed a paper-based survey, and their height and weight were measured (67% completion rate).

Results: The overweight and obesity rates were 33.8% and 26.9%, respectively. More females than males accurately assessed their weight (p < 0.05). Body weight underestimation was associated with male sex, excellent/very good perceived overall health, and not being informed by a doctor of having overweight or obesity (p < 0.01). Higher odds of ≥5% weight gain were related to female sex, living on campus, and not being informed by a doctor of having overweight or obesity (p < 0.05).

Conclusion: Given the high overweight and obesity rates among Black students, HBCUs in the USA should develop intervention strategies for the prevention and management of overweight and obesity. College health educators at HBCUs need to provide regular check-ups or health screenings that help male students perceive their weight accurately and prevent weight underestimation. It is important for HBCUs to monitor and address weight gain among Black students as early as possible.

Lead Researchers

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  1. Jean-Philippe Chaput

    Senior Scientist, CHEO Research Institute

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