A Survey of Weight Perception and Social Desirability of Obesity
BACKGROUND: Obesity and its complications are emergent health challenges in developing countries including Nigeria. We determined the concordance of perceived with measured weight and assessed the social desirability of obesity among adults in Kano metropolis in northern Nigeria.
METHODS: A cross sectional descriptive study was conducted among 400 adults using structured interview questionnaires.
RESULTS: Among 386 respondents, 58 (84.1%) of underweight adults, 106 (46.2%) of healthy weight adults, 46 (66.7%) of overweight adults and 16 (84.2%) of obese adults incorrectly perceived their weight category. Sixty (15.5%) participants considered obesity as socially desirable and a sign of good living and affluence. Older respondents (≥40 years) (P=0.0001), Igbo or Yoruba ethnicity (P=0.0035) and non-formal or primary education (P<0.0001) were significantly associated with positive view of obesity. However, only ethnicity; Yoruba-Adjusted Odds Ratio (aOR) =1.60, 95% Confidence Interval (95% CI) (1.20-2.86), P=0.018, Igbo (aOR=3.22, 95% CI (1.64-6.3), P=0.005 and educational status; non-formal (aOR=4.61, 95% CI (1.62-16.9), P=0.01; primary (aOR=4.95, 95% CI(1.4-17.8), P=0.015 remained significant predictors after adjusting for confounding.
CONCLUSION: The discordance between perceived and measured weight is worrisome but the low social desirability of obesity should be encouraged. Weight control using periodic weight measurements, nutritional education and physical exercise are paramount.
KEY WORDS: Weight, perception, obesity, social desire, Nigeria