Honors College

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Publication Date

Spring 5-2016


How we view others and ourselves can have a very powerful influence on our lives and how we make decisions. The purpose of this study was to observe self-selected body size images for oneself, self-selected body size figures for a healthy, overweight and obese figure, and the relationship between self-selected body size figures and physical activity (PA) in young adult, male and female, college students (n=34, aged 18-22). During the spring of 2015, PA was measured for seven consecutive days using both accelerometers and the International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ). For accelerometer data, 3-day means were computed. Self-selected body size figures were assessed using the Body Image Assessment Scale-Body Dimensions (BIAS-BD) along with selected demographics. Participants chose what they thought represented their own body figure, and a healthy, overweight, and obese body figure. The self-selected body size figures were then compared to PA. No relationship between self-reported and measured PA was found (p=0.13), therefore only accelerometer data were used when reporting findings. When comparing self-selected body size figures and accelerometer-measured PA for the total sample, as self-selected body size figure increased, the amount of time doing moderate-vigorous activity decreased (p=0.04). The implication is that a higher perceived body size could be a barrier to physical activity. When comparing self-selected body figure size and what image represented a healthy, overweight, or obese body figure, there were similarities in both males and females. As self-selected body size figure went up, what they thought a healthy person looked like increased as well, significantly for females (p=0.025) and trending for males (p=0.059). For females, there was no significant association between self-selected body size figure and what they perceived as overweight and obese, however, for males there was. As self-selected body size figure increased, what males thought an overweight and obese person looked like decreased (p=0.034 and p=0.045, respectively). There was an outlier, which when removed, no association was evident. With a larger sample size, the original association might be confirmed. It is interesting to study body size figures from the perspective of gender and influence on physical activity.