Experimental investigation of parents and their children's social interaction intentions towards obese children

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Abstract

Aim:

The aim of this study was to determine if parent intentions to facilitate social interactions between their child and a peer, or parental perceptions of their child's peer social interaction intentions, differ according to the weight status of a child's peer.

Methods:

During a telephone survey, 250 Australian parents of children 5–12 years were randomly assigned to listen to one of two descriptions of a hypothetical child differing by group in the description of child weight status (‘quite overweight’ or ‘healthy weight’). Parents then completed the Social Interaction Intention Scale, which assessed how likely they or their child would engage in a number of behaviours that may facilitate social interaction with the child described in the profile.

Results:

Means scores on the overall scale and the child sub-scale of the Child Social Interaction Intention Scale were significantly higher among participants allocated to the healthy weight child profile, indicating more positive social intentions.

Conclusion:

The findings suggest that negative weight-based stereotypes hinder the development of peer friendships by obese children.

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