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Title: Body weight has no impact on self-esteem of minority children living in inner city, low-income neighborhoods: a cross-sectional study

item WONG, WILLIAM - Children'S Nutrition Research Center (CNRC)
item MIKHAIL, CARMEN - Baylor College Of Medicine
item ORTIZ, CHRISTINA - Houston Parks & Recreation
item LATHAN, DEBRA - Houston Parks & Recreation
item MOORE, LOUIS - Houston Parks & Recreation
item KONZELMANN, KAREN - Children'S Nutrition Research Center (CNRC)
item SMITH, E - Children'S Nutrition Research Center (CNRC)

Submitted to: BMC Pediatrics
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/22/2014
Publication Date: 1/24/2014
Citation: Wong, W.W., Mikhail, C., Ortiz, C.L., Lathan, D., Moore, L.A., Konzelmann, K.L., Smith, E.O. 2014. Body weight has no impact on self-esteem of minority children living in inner city, low-income neighborhoods: a cross-sectional study. BMC Pediatrics. 14:19.

Interpretive Summary: The number of children who are overweight and obese is higher among minority children when compared to white children. Overweight and obese children are known to have low self-confidence. It is a common belief that self-confidence gets worse when body weight goes up. The self-confidence level among underserved minority children has not been well studied. The study measured the self-confidence level among 910 minority children living in inner city, low-income neighborhoods at 14 community centers in Houston, Texas using a well-tested questionnaire. Our results showed that the minority children had low self-confidence. Self-confidence was found to be low regardless of their body weight. Therefore, being normal weight did not guarantee better self-confidence among these minority children. Since low self-confidence is related to increased levels of loneliness, sadness, nervousness, unhealthy eating habits, and the use of tobacco and alcohol, all childhood obesity prevention programs should include activities that would promote self-confidence.

Technical Abstract: The relationship between body weight and self-esteem among underserved minority children is not well documented. We measured the self-esteem profile using the Self-Perception Profile for Children among 910 minority children at 17 Houston community centers. Weight status had no effect on any of the self-esteem scores among the minority children (P >/= 0.21). Black children had higher scholastic competence than Hispanic children (P = 0.05). Social acceptance was not affected by age, gender, and race/ethnicity (P >/= 0.13). Significant age x gender (P = 0.006) and race x gender (P = 0.005) interactions were detected on athletic competence. The younger boys had higher athletic competence than the younger and older girls (P /= 0.11). There was an age x gender interaction on global self-worth (P = 0.02) with boys having similar scores regardless of ages (P = 0.40) or ethnicity (P = 0.98). However, boys from both age groups had higher global self-worth than the older girls (P /= 0.07). For the first time, we documented that being normal weight did not necessarily guarantee positive self-esteem among minority children. Their self-esteem scores were similar to those found among children who were diagnosed with obesity and obesity-related co-morbidities and lower than those reported among normal-weight white children. Therefore, activities to promote self-esteem are important when working with underserved minority children in order to promote a healthy lifestyle.