Attitudes of Thai and Mexican High School Students Toward Obese Individuals

Thursday, April 25, 2013
Exhibit Hall Poster Area 2 (Convention Center)
Larry K. Olsen1, Gabriela Pena De La Cruz2, Adriana Pena De La Cruz3, Anchalee Duvall4, Nattaya Phiromsid4 and Mark J. Kittleson5, (1)A. T. Still University, Las Cruces, NM, (2)National Autonomous University of Mexico, Mexico City, Mexico, (3)Las Cruces, NM, (4)Western University, Kajanaburi, Thailand, (5)New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM

Background/Purpose: Obesity is a major worldwide problem. The purpose was to compare attitudes of HS students toward obese individuals in two different countries, Thailand and Mexico.

Method: A 20- item, 6-point Likert instrument (Allison, Basile, and Uker, 991) was translated into Spanish and Thai and pilot tested to ensure cultural compatibility. The anonymous survey was distributed to 775 high school students in Mexico City and Karnchanaburi, Thailand. All data were collected by the research team so questions about any of the items could be explained. Students responded to all items directly on the instrument. Data were manually entered into an Excel spreadsheet for analysis. The calculated BMI, sex, and self-reported perception of personal weight status were used as dependent variables. Total attitude scores and individual attitude items were used as independent variables.

Analysis/Results: The Cronbach alpha was .67 (Mexican) and .71 (Thailand) respectively. Thai students as a group and by sex attained significantly higher total attitude scores (more positive toward obese individuals) than did the Mexican students. No significant differences in total attitude scores between male and female Mexican participants were detected. Thai females had significantly more favorable attitude scores than Thai males, results that were not present in the Mexican student sample.

Conclusions: This study represents a seminal effort to compare the attitudes of HS students toward obese individuals. The results of the study can be used to create greater social awareness programs and respect for all individuals. Similar studies should be conducted in other nations as well.