Publication Date



Open access

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Sociology (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Marvin Dawkins

Second Committee Member

John Murphy

Third Committee Member

Shelby Gilbert


This thesis explores race and gender differences in perceptions and behaviors regarding weight and obesity, along with the relative influence of individual and structural factors on the personal weight status of black and white adults. In addition, this study examines the extent to which black and white adults differ in their perceptions of discrimination attributed to their personal weight. Based on an analysis of data from a national poll conducted by ABC News and TIME magazine, results indicate that weight status perceptions of overweight black females were consistent, while incongruity was found in perceived and actual weight status among obese black women. On the other hand, a greater proportion of obese white women under-assessed their weight status compared to obese black women. However, regardless of race, men were more likely to under-assess their weight than women. There were no differences by race and gender in reports of having felt discriminated against because of personal weight status. Findings also revealed that black females and males face greater constraints than their white counterparts related to controlling weight and fighting obesity, including such factors as a lack of information on how to establish good eating habits, the need to monitor food content, and being able to afford the cost of purchasing healthy food. A discussion of these findings in relation to previous research is provided along with recommendations for further study.


Gender And Obesity; Body Mass Index; BMI; Race And Obesity; Obesity; Race