While having a poor self-image can lead to a host of both mental and physical health problems, an extremely good body image can also take its toll on a woman's health, says a new study.
Researchers at Temple University studied the body image perceptions of 81 underweight, normal weight, overweight or obese women in the North Philadelphia area and found that as their body mass index (BMI) increased, two-thirds of the women still felt they were at an ideal body size.
All participants were measured for height and weight and completed an anonymous survey to determine their self-perceived, current and ideal body sizes.
Each woman was then shown an illustration of different-sized women that correlated with increasing BMIs, and was asked which size they felt they were at currently, and what their ideal would be.
While most of the participants selected illustrations of women in the normal to overweight range, about 20 percent of the obese women selected an overweight or obese silhouette as their ideal body shape.
Further, 68 percent of overweight participants and 84 percent of obese women underestimated their current BMI.
African-American and Hispanic women had significantly underestimated their current body size, while the white women overestimated.
"Informing our patients about the dangers of obesity, even when they feel they're not at risk, can help empower them to change their lifestyles and lead healthier lives," said study researcher Marisa Rose, M.D., assistant professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences in the Temple University School of Medicine.
The study has been published in the May issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.