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Open Access Research article

Association between weight perception and socioeconomic status among adults in the Seychelles

Heba Alwan1, Bharathi Viswanathan2, Julita Williams2, Fred Paccaud1 and Pascal Bovet12*

Author Affiliations

1 Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine (IUMSP), University Hospital Centre and University of Lausanne, Rue du Bugnon 17, 1005 Lausanne, Switzerland

2 Ministry of Health and Social Development, Victoria, Republic of Seychelles

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BMC Public Health 2010, 10:467  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-10-467

Published: 9 August 2010

Abstract

Background

Few studies have examined the association between weight perception and socioeconomic status (SES) in sub-Saharan Africa, and none made this association based on education, occupation and income simultaneously.

Methods

Based on a population-based survey (n = 1255) in the Seychelles, weight and height were measured and self-perception of one's own body weight, education, occupation, and income were assessed by a questionnaire. Individuals were considered to have appropriate weight perception when their self-perceived weight matched their actual body weight.

Results

The prevalence of overweight and obesity was 35% and 28%, respectively. Multivariate analysis among overweight/obese persons showed that appropriate weight perception was directly associated with actual weight, education, occupation and income, and that it was more frequent among women than among men. In a model using all three SES indicators together, only education (OR = 2.5; 95% CI: 1.3-4.8) and occupation (OR = 2.3; 95% CI: 1.2-4.5) were independently associated with appropriate perception of being overweight. The OR reached 6.9 [95% CI: 3.4-14.1] when comparing the highest vs. lowest categories of SES based on a score including all SES indicators and 6.1 [95% CI: 3.0-12.1] for a score based on education and occupation.

Conclusions

Appropriately perceiving one's weight as too high was associated with different SES indicators, female sex and being actually overweight. These findings suggest means and targets for clinical and population-based interventions for weight control. Further studies should examine whether these differences in weight perception underlie differences in cognitive skills, healthy weight norms, or body size ideals.