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Citation Information

Type Journal Article - Women & Health
Title Perceived ideal body size of Ghanaian women:“Not too skinny, but not too fat”
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2017
Page numbers 1-15
URL http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/03630242.2017.1321607
Body size issues are gaining public health attention because of the fast rising epidemic of overweight and obesity across the globe. This study explored Ghanaian women’s subjective perceptions regarding ideal body size for women. A purposive sampling strategy was employed in recruiting 36 women across the body weight spectrum from Tamale (n = 17) and Accra (n = 19) in Ghana. Qualitative data were obtained from in-depth interviews using a semi-structured interview guide. Data from the interviews were analyzed deductively. The mean body mass index of participants was 33.5 ± 10 kg/m2: sixteen of the participants were obese, eight were overweight, eleven were normal weight, and one was underweight. The participants almost unanimously had a preference for an ideal body size slightly above the normal, but not necessarily obese. Typically described as “not too skinny, but not too fat,” this preferred ideal reflected a fuller, curvier, and shapelier body, as opposed to the Western ideal of thinner body type. Women often felt pressured by peers and family members to have a slightly heavier body size. Health education efforts are needed to focus on messages that seek to challenge existing body size perceptions that may inhibit women’s willingness to maintain a healthy body weight.

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