Weight and Gender Differences

Prior to going into my freshman year of college, I continuously would hear people say one thing to many incoming college students.  That was I hope you do not gain the freshman 15.  This was repeated over and over again and I even began worrying that something like this was so common it was going to happen to me.  This led me to question how many people care strongly about their weight.  Do both men and women care? And if so why?  Before doing research, I assumed that women, overall, care slightly more about their weight and body image than most men.  I hypothesized this because women are constantly compared to unrealistic body images from the media.  I believe that this pressure causes women to be more unhappy with their body and less confident about their outer appearance.

Researchers from the University of Missouri-Columbia and University of Missouri-St. Louis conducted a study “examining  gender differences in satisfaction with body parts.” 300 college students were the participants of this experiment, one group were students who were not trying to loose weight while the other group was trying to loose weight. Each individual completed questionnaires which included information on “binge eating, self-esteem, concern with weight and appearance, weight discrepancy and demographics.”  What was discovered was overall women on average wanted to loose 3 pounds more than men did and were more concerned about the toneness of their abs, hips, and butt.  What was also found was that the women in this study were not over weight to begin with.  This was an observational study which means that third variables could have been involved such as the students not being completely honest in the information they sent in to the researchers or that the sample size was not big enough to know how all different men and women feel about their weight and body image.  Here correlation does not necessarily equal causation due to the fact that men who weigh a little more do not then get self-conscious in their body due to less outside pressure while only some women feel this way when weighing a little more.  I think that this was a good study in that many different types of questions were asked but also think that more research has to be conducted in order to know more about how weight gains affects each type of individual.

This chart shows the different weights that men and women are “suppose” to be dependent on their heights.




An individual does not have to be a specific weight.  Whatever makes that individual happy with themselves is a good weight for them to be, not solely based on what a chart says one is suppose to be.

Their are many reasons why women care a great amount about their weight:

  • Body imagine and the media- women are compared to the ideal women in the spotlight, something many people cannot live up to
  • Relationships- women in relationships want acceptance by their significant other and want them to say and feel that the women looks good in her own body
  • Genetics- genetics are not a direct reason why women care about their weight, but poor genetics from ones parents can lead women to feel they have to be thinner even if they are not over weight causing health and eating disorders

Men on the other hand care to a different degree; they do not have as much of the societal pressure that women do in accordance to their bodies, but still want to have the “ideal” body.  Even if men gain a little weight it is easier for them to loose the excess weight than if women were to gain some weight.  Dr James Stubbs, research specialist for Slimming World said “Although women diet more frequently, men are actually more likely to succeed.” This concept is the main reason women care more about gaining weight, it is harder and a longer process for them to loose weight in comparison to men. But men have a bigger concern about gaining weight rather than loosing it.  Many men/ young adults do not “feel” as if they are big enough, try hard but have a hard time gaining the weight they want.  So men and women both care about their weight just in different ways.

Overall, both men and women care to a certain degree about their weight and body-image. More research and experimental studies would have to be conducted in order to find the full details about the relation between gender and weight.

4 thoughts on “Weight and Gender Differences

  1. Xiye Li

    It is pretty unique that you set your hypothesis on women concern more about their weight than men do because girls always talk about losing weight. And it is good that you find out that there are not enough sample in the study and there could be third variables affecting the study. But I think you could do some further research on how women and men differ from their diets. Would it because women tend to eat more sweet food, such as desserts, candies, and beverages. Why women self-image appears to be not perfect? What would the result be if women and men consume the same amount of food everyday? Will they both gain weight or would women gain more weight than men or vise versa? More research could be done to figure out the consequence.

  2. Claire E Going

    Weight has a lot to do with muscle mass as well as fat. Because muscle weighs much more than fat, a lot of this information can be discounted due to the fact that someone can have a lot of muscle mass, be further up on the weight scale, and have incredibly high self-esteem due to the fact that they are in shape. Here is an article comparing a pound of fat versus a pound of muscle. (fat has more volume than muscle, therefore taking up much more room.) Although women are constantly comparing themselves to what the media says they should look like, men and women both have similar expectations as far as appearances go in the media. Here is a video about the pressure men feel about body image in the media.

  3. Julian Eisenberg

    Men and women alike are biologically bound to seasonally lose and gain weight. I enjoyed how you incorporated societal norms and other factors into the “acceptable” weight range. I believe that many youngsters are simply uneducated when it comes to knowing their weight. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/info/obesity/what-is-bmi.php In order to know your healthy weight, you must understand your BMI, and that measurement cannot be obtained usually until your 20 years old. I also believe that one’s weight would not be pressing if people understood how to maintain a healthy diet.

  4. Daniel Liam Cavanaugh

    I like the idea you went with of investigating what is a problem with society, namely the media. From my point of view, I am a guy and I don’t care about my weight that much, but I also don’t gain weight easily. Thinking about it now, it is very easy to understand that women care more about their weight because it is much more difficult for them to control. Before, I just though that women cared more about their weight simply because that was how they are. Now I know that there are a lot of factors behind that general characteristic of women. You might be interested in this source on the effects of exercise on blood pressure in both men and women. It shows another big difference biologically between men and women.

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