Weight-related Criticism and Self-perceptions among Preadolescents


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Abstract

Objective To examine the relationships among weight-related criticism (WRC), body size perceptions, and body size dissatisfaction among a sample of preadolescent children. Method A community sample of 382 fifth and sixth graders (M age = 10.8) completed measures of WRC, nonweight-related criticism (NWRC), body size perceptions, body size dissatisfaction, and general self-esteem. Body mass index for each participant was collected during a standard school assessment. Results WRC was a significant and unique predictor of body size perceptions and body size dissatisfaction, controlling for actual BMI percentile and NWRC. Weight status moderated these relationships, with significant effects for WRC found only in the overweight group. NWRC was a significant predictor of self-esteem. Discussion The results suggest that WRC is specifically and uniquely associated with preadolescent children’s body self-perceptions beyond its association with general, nonweight-related victimization. Prevention efforts may be needed to limit WRC and its potentially harmful effects.

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