Perception of Overweight and Self-esteem During Adolescence

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Objective:To examine sex- and race/ethnicity-specific relationships between adolescents' self-esteem and weight perception.Method:Descriptive analysis and logistic regression of Wave II of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (N = 6,427 males, 6,574 females; ages 11-21) examined associations between low self-esteem and perceived overweight within body mass index (BMI) percentile categories, controlling for sociodemographics and stratified by sex and race/ethnicity.Results:25.1% and 8% of normal weight females and males, respectively, perceived themselves as overweight, with variation by race/ethnicity. Low self-esteem was most strongly associated with misperceived overweight in moderate BMI percentile categories (males: OR = 2.34; 95% CI: 1.60-3.41; females: OR = 2.39; 95% CI: 1.82, 3.16). Odds of correctly perceived overweight were higher for low (versus high) self-esteem in white and black females but not males of any race/ethnicity.Discussion:Understanding subgroup differences by race/ethnicity in perceived overweight-self-esteem relationships may inform eating disorders' prevention strategies.

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