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Open Access Research

Perceived body image in men and women with type 2 diabetes mellitus: correlation of body mass index with the figure rating scale

Harold E Bays1, Debbra D Bazata2, Kathleen M Fox3*, Susan Grandy4, James R Gavin5 and SHIELD Study Group

Author Affiliations

1 Louisville Metabolic and Atherosclerosis Research Center, Louisville, KY, USA

2 St. Luke's Primary Care South, Overland Park, KS, USA

3 Strategic Healthcare Solutions, LLC, Monkton, MD, USA

4 AstraZeneca LP, Wilmington, DE, USA

5 Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA, USA

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Nutrition Journal 2009, 8:57  doi:10.1186/1475-2891-8-57

Published: 16 December 2009

Abstract

Background

Body mass index (BMI) is often used as an objective surrogate estimate of body fat. Increased BMI is directly associated with an increase in metabolic disease, such as type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). The Stunkard Figure Rating Scale (FRS) is a subjective measure of body fat, and self-perceptions of body image conceivably impact the development and treatment of T2DM. This study examined the self-perception of body image to various levels of BMI among those with T2DM.

Methods

Respondents (n = 13,887) to the US Study to Help Improve Early evaluation and management of risk factors Leading to Diabetes (SHIELD) 2006 survey self-reported their weight and height for BMI calculation. On the gender-specific Stunkard FRS, respondents selected the figure most closely resembling their body image. Spearman correlation was computed between perceived body image and BMI for men and women separately. Student's t-test analysis compared the mean BMI differences between respondents with and without T2DM.

Results

Men with T2DM did not significantly differ from men without diabetes mellitus in mean BMI per body image figure except at the extremes in body figures. Women with T2DM had a significantly higher BMI for the same body figure compared with women without diabetes mellitus for most figures (p < 0.05).

Conclusions

Individuals, particularly women, with T2DM may differ in their perception of body image compared with those without diabetes mellitus. It is unclear if these perceived differences increase the risk of T2DM, or if the diagnosis of T2DM alters body image perceptions.