The relevance of the side-view in body image scales for public health: an example from two African populationsReportar como inadecuado

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BMC Public Health

, 15:1169

First Online: 24 November 2015Received: 19 January 2015Accepted: 17 November 2015DOI: 10.1186-s12889-015-2511-x

Cite this article as: Cohen, E., Ndao, A., Boëtsch, G. et al. BMC Public Health 2015 15: 1169. doi:10.1186-s12889-015-2511-x


BackgroundBody size scales are a common method for diagnosing body image disturbances and assessing the cultural valorisation of stoutness, a phenomenon that plays a role in the development of overweight, especially among African populations. Traditionally, body size scales present a front view. In this study, we evaluated a complementary model of representing body shape: the side view of body outlines. In particular, we examined the association between the side-view and a set of bio-anthropometric indices in men and women.

MethodsTo cover the inter-ethnic variability in the Niger-Congo area, we selected a balanced sex-ratio sample of 80 Cameroonians and 81 Senegalese. Individuals wearing close-fitting clothes were photographed from the front-and side-view, and measured following a bio-anthropometric protocol synthesizing body shape variation: Body Mass Index, percentage body fat, somatotype profile, waist circumference, waist-to-hip ratio, mean blood pressure and glycaemia. The shape of each front and side body outline was extracted and characterised by Normalized Elliptic Fourier Descriptors NEFD. Finally, we assessed associations between NEFD and bio-anthropometric indices.

ResultsVariation in the shape of both front and side body outlines was associated with all bio-anthropometrics for at least one sex-population combination. Overall, the side view best captured body shape variation related to changes in almost all bio-anthropometrics in both sexes and populations, with the exceptions of female mesomorphy, male blood pressure and glycaemia in both sexes. We found that the details of the relationship between bio-anthropometrics and body shape differed between the two male populations, a finding that was reflected in side-views for all criteria, but not front-views.

ConclusionsVariation in body shape assessed by several bio-anthropometrics related to health and nutritional status was larger for side than front body outlines. Integrating side views in body size scales would improve the accuracy of body size assessment and thus, the assessment of behaviours leading to overweight, as well as symptoms of body image disturbances, in Africa and potentially in other populations.

KeywordsBody image Obesity Perceptions Body size scales Africans Electronic supplementary materialThe online version of this article doi:10.1186-s12889-015-2511-x contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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Autor: Emmanuel Cohen - Amadou Ndao - Gilles Boëtsch - Lamine Gueye - Patrick Pasquet - Michelle Holdsworth - Alexandre Courtiol


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