Body Size Stigmatization: An Examination of Attitudes of African American Preschool-Age Children Attending Head Start*

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Abstract

Objective

To assess body size stigmatization attitudes (BSSA), their effect on friendship selection, and controllability beliefs in a sample of African American preschool-age children of low socioeconomic status.

Methods

Participants included 76 children attending Head Start. Children completed an adjective task, a friendship selection task, and a controllability task.

Results

On the adjective task, the Overweight figure received significantly more negative mean ratings than the Underweight figure; however, there were no significant differences between the mean ratings for the Overweight and Average figures or the Average and Underweight figures. On the friendship selection task, children preferred the Average or Underweight figures as playmates and friends. On the controllability task, greater control was associated with the Overweight figure than the Underweight figure.

Conclusion

Results suggest that BSSA may be present in a sample of African American preschool-age children of low socioeconomic status. These attitudes may influence friendship selection and controllability beliefs.

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