Body image concepts differ by age and sex in an Ojibway-Cree community in Canada

Joel Gittelsohn, Stewart B. Harris, Andrew L. Thorne-Lyman, Anthony J.G. Hanley, Annette Barnie, Bernard Zinman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


Community-based studies of body image concepts can be useful for developing health interventions to prevent obesity-related diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease in specific populations. First Nations peoples, in particular, face increased obesity-related health problems as a result of acculturative changes in diet and activity. This study examined body shape perception in an Ojibway-Cree community in Northern Ontario, Canada. A set of figure outline drawings ranging from very thin to very obese were used to examine perceived body shape, body shape satisfaction and ideals of healthiness across sex and age groups. Overall, only 16% of the population were satisfied with their current body shape. People with a higher body mass index (BMI) were less satisfied with their bodies and thought they were less healthy than people with a lower BMI. While females had a significantly greater BMI than males, males and females did not differ significantly in perception of current body shape. On the other hand, females desired relatively smaller body shapes than males (P < 0.05). Older people chose significantly larger healthy body shapes than did younger people (P < 0.05). Differences between our results and those reported for Anglo populations indicate that while both groups prefer body shapes smaller than those they have currently, the Ojibway-Cree tend to prefer relatively larger body shapes. Knowledge of age and sex-related patterns of body image concepts in communities can assist in the design of obesity-reducing interventions targeting specific groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2990-3000
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Nutrition
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1996


  • Native Canadians
  • body image
  • community based study
  • humans
  • obesity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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