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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Body Mass Index (BMI) and child temperament: ethnic and gender differences among 3 and 4 year olds

item Baskin, Monica
item Fitzpatrick, Stephanie
item Franklin, Frank
item Feese, Michelle
item Nicklas, Theresa
item Hughes, Sheryl
item Shewchuk, Richard

Submitted to: Obesity
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/1/2006
Publication Date: 10/20/2006
Citation: Baskin, M., Fitzpatrick, S., Franklin, F., Feese, M., Nicklas, T., Hughes, S., Shewchuk, R. 2006. Body mass index (BMI) and child temperament: Ethnic and gender differences among 3 and 4 year olds [abstract]. Obesity. 14(Suppl):A188-A189.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Limited early research suggests that children with a more difficult temperament (i.e., withdrawing, high intensity, predominate negative mood) by ages 4-5 are more likely to have excessive weight gain by ages 8-9 compared with children with opposite temperaments. We examined this relationship among 758 ethnically diverse (333 African American, 201 White, 224 Hispanics) 3-4 year olds (47% girls) enrolled in Head Start. Measured height and weight was used to calculate BMI (kg/m2). Temperament was assessed using the Very Short Form of the Children's Behavior Questionnaire (CBQ) administered to the child's caregiver in her preferred language (English/Spanish). It provides subscale scores for Surgency (e.g., impulsivity, high intensity), Negative Affect (e.g., anger/frustration, sadness), and Effortful Control (e.g., inhibitory control, attention focusing). Analysis of variance was used to assess the relationship between BMI, ethnicity, gender, and CBQ subscale scores. Boys scored higher on Surgency (p=.001), whereas girls scored higher on Effortful Control and Negative Affect (p=.000 and p=.002, respectively). African American children scored higher on Surgency than Hispanics (p=.002), but lower than Whites (p=.027). Hispanic children scored lower on Surgency than Whites (p=.000). African American children scored higher on Effortful Control than Whites (p=.002) and Hispanics (p=.048). No differences for ethnicity were found for Negative Affect and BMI did not significantly correlate with any of CBQ subscales. Data suggest a link between specific child temperament styles and gender and ethnicity.

Last Modified: 06/27/2017
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