Variations in Weight Control Behaviors and Body Image Dissatisfaction Among Preadolescents in a Low-Income Community in Fresno, California
Purpose: This study sought to determine whether healthy, overweight, and obese preadolescents living in low-income neighborhoods differ in regards to body image and weight control behaviors. It is critical to identify early precursors to body image issues so that optimal prevention programs can be implemented. Subjects: The sample consisted of 64 preadolescents ages 8 to13 years, including 29 male (45%) and 35 female (55%) fourth, fifth, and sixth graders living in low-income neighborhoods in Fresno, California. Measures: (a) Height and weight were measured to calculate BMI-for-age (kg/m2 ), and (b) the CDC 13- question Body Image Survey was administered. Analysis: ANOVA was used to compare differences in body image and weight control behaviors by weight category (healthy, overweight, obese).Results: The obese group reported more body image dissatisfaction than did the healthy and overweight groups. Obese preadolescents were less happy with their body image and dieted more than healthy weight preadolescents. Overweight preadolescents were more similar in behaviors to healthy weight preadolescents than obese preadolescents. Conclusions: Low self-esteem related to weight may be exacerbated in the adolescent years when new pressures and challenges emerge. Targeting preadolescent overweight and obese individuals with body image issues may be useful in ameliorating some of the problems that are magnified in adolescence, such as dieting and eating disorders.