Perceived body shape

Perceived body shape

LASA filenames:
LASAF145 / LASAG145 / LAS3B145 / LASMB145.
See also:
Nutrition and Food-related Behaviour study 2014-2015 (ancillary study).

Contact: Marjolein Visser

The figure rating scale (FRS), also known as the Stunkard scale1, is a psychometric measurement originally developed in 1983 to communicate about the unknown weights of a research subject’s absent relatives, and since adapted to assess body image. The scale presents nine male and nine female schematic silhouettes, ranging from extreme thinness to extreme obesity. For research purposes, each participant is asked to self-select the silhouette that best indicates his or her current body size and the silhouette that reflects his or her ideal body size. The scale has been used to measure how gender, media, race, and culture affect an individual’s sensitivity to his or her own physical appearance. Most research focusses on body dissatisfaction.


Measurement instruments in LASA

The silhouettes are scored from 1 to 9 with higher values indicating greater overweight. Respondents are asked to select the silhouette that best indicates his or her current body shape and the silhouette that reflects his or her ideal body shape. The difference between current and ideal body silhouette can be used as a measure of body dissatisfaction2

In the Migrant cohort (LASMB145) respondents were asked to select the silhouette that best indicates his or her current body, and were asked to indicate the silhouette that best indicates his or her body shape at age 40. A measure of body dissatisfaction is thus not available for that cohort.


Respondents are asked to indicate which body silhouette represents their current body shape the best. The question is repeated in order to indicate ideal body shape, or body shape at age 40.


LASAF145 / LASAG145 / LAS3B145 (self-administered questionnaire in Dutch) / LASMB145 (medical interview, in Dutch)

Variable information

LASAF145 / LASAG145 / LAS3B145 / LASMB145;
LASAF345 / LASAG345 / LAS3B345 (scaled)

Interim measurements
At the time of the Nutrition and Food-related Behaviour study 2014-2015 (ancillary study), current body shape and ideal body shape were assessed in Section C of the self-administered questionnaire (items C4 and C5).


Availability of information per wave ¹


Current body shape

Ideal body shape

Body shape at age 40


¹ More information about the LASA data collection waves is available here.

* 2B=baseline second cohort;
3B=baseline third cohort;
MB=migrants: baseline first cohort;
AS=Ancillary Study: Nutrition and Food-related Behaviour study 2014-2015

Sa=data collected in self-administered questionnaire;
Me-data collected in medical interview


Previous use in LASA
In 1,295 LASA respondents from wave 2008-2009, current and ideal body shape was compared with objective body weight status based on the body mass index3. Current and ideal body shape scores increased with increasing BMI group (underweight, normal weight, overweight and obesity) in men and women, with the exception of underweight men. Both men and women chose their ideal body silhouette to be statistical significantly thinner than their current body silhouette (-1.0 for men and -1.1 for women). This difference was similar for men and women. Among those with obesity, 100% of men and 99.5% of women desired to be at least one body silhouette thinner. The mean difference was -1.82 and -1.77 for men and women with obesity.



  1. Stunkard A.J., Sorensen T., Schulsinger F. Use of the Danish Adoption Register for the study of obesity and thinness. In: Kety S.S., Rowland L.P., Sidman R.L., Matthysse S.W., editors. The genetics of neurological and psychiatric disorders. New York: Raven; 1983. p. 115-20.
  2. LJ Eaves, AJ Stunkard, NG Martin, AC Heath, TD Wade, Bulik CM, Wade TD, Heath AC, Martin NG, Stunkard AJ, Eaves LJ. Rekaring body mass index to figural stimuli: Population-based normative data for Caucasians. Obes Relat Metab Disord 2001;25:1517-24.
  3. Monteagudo C, Dijkstra SC, Visser M. Self-perception of body weight status in older Dutch adults. J Nutr Health Aging 2015;19:612-8.


Date of last update: August 30, 2023