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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: DEVELOPMENT AND PREVENTION OF CHILDHOOD OBESITY

Location: Children's Nutrition Research Center

Title: The application of the Yerkes-Dodson law in a childhood weight management program: Examining weight dissatisfaction

Authors
item Johnston, Craig -
item Moreno, Jennette -
item Regas, Kaleigh -
item Tyler, Chermaine -
item Foreyt, John -

Submitted to: Journal of Pediatric Psychology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: January 1, 2012
Publication Date: February 29, 2012
Citation: Johnston, C.A., Moreno, J.P., Regas, K., Tyler, C., Foreyt, J.P. 2012. The application of the Yerkes-Dodson law in a childhood weight management program: Examining weight dissatisfaction. Journal of Pediatric Psychology. 37(6):674-679.

Interpretive Summary: Childhood obesity is becoming more common in the United States. Interventions are needed to prevent childhood obesity, yet it is not clear why interventions work for some and not for others. This study looked at how weight dissatisfaction in children ages 11-14 affected changes in their weight. Results showed that moderate levels of weight dissatisfaction are linked to improved outcomes in a weight management program. Children in the moderate dissatisfaction group lost weight while participants in low and high groups gained weight over 6 months. This suggests that there is a strong need to consider weight dissatisfaction when designing prevention and intervention programs for obesity in children.

Technical Abstract: Our objective was to determine the effect of dissatisfaction with one's weight on outcomes in a weight management program. Participants included 149 children between the ages of 11 and 14 years who were enrolled in an intensive weight loss intervention. All participants had a body mass index (BMI) equal to or greater than 85th percentile. Children were divided into tertiles based on their level of weight dissatisfaction as assessed by the Kids' Eating Disorder Survey. Analysis revealed significant differences across levels of weight dissatisfaction categories for weight loss. Specifically, children in the moderate dissatisfaction group lost weight while participants in low and high groups gained weight over 6 months. As the Yerkes-Dodson law would predict, these findings suggest that moderate levels of weight dissatisfaction are associated with improved outcomes in a weight management program.

Last Modified: 8/22/2014