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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


item Connell, Carol
item Bounds, Wendy
item Nettles, Mary
item Lofton, Kristi

Submitted to: International Society for Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/3/2006
Publication Date: 7/13/2006
Citation: Connell, C., Bounds, W., Nettles, M.F., Lofton, K. 2006. Mothers' body image preferences for children vary according to their own children's weight status [abstract]. Proceedings of International Society for Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity. p. 174.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: The objectives of this study were to describe mothers’ body image preferences for children and to determine if mothers’ body image evaluations differed with respect to their own children’s weight status. The sample included 281 primarily African American mothers of children enrolled in Head Start. Mothers’ body image perceptions were assessed by use of a previously published body image silhouette scale that was modified to represent African American children. The body image scale consisted of 7 figures, ranging from small to large. Mothers responded to a series of questions evaluating the body image silhouettes. Statistical analyses included frequencies and Spearman correlation coefficients. Responses regarding mothers’ least preferred figure were largely split between the smallest and largest figures, with 41.3% and 45.2% of mothers choosing the smallest and largest figures, respectively. Over a third (35.9%) of mothers chose the largest figure as the cut-point for defining overweight, with a greater number of mothers selecting this figure than any other figure. Spearman correlation coefficients indicated that mothers of children in higher weight categories chose significantly larger figures as most preferred (r = .12, p = .049) and significantly larger figures on the low end of the range of acceptable figures (r = .14, p = .02). Mothers in this sample appeared to be tolerant of larger body sizes in children and only perceived a child at the largest end of the weight spectrum to be overweight. There was also evidence that mothers of heavier children were more accepting of larger body sizes.

Last Modified: 05/22/2017
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