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Association of body weight and gender with self-esteem in schoolchildren. Survey of Ioannina, Epirus, Greece. The Children study
© Angelopoulos et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2008
Published: 17 April 2008
There is variation in the psychological distress associated with child body weight. Low self-esteem, when observed, provides very little information about the nature of the distress and no indication of the proportion of children with high body weight affected [1–4]. There is a difference in self-esteem among boys and girls. This study used a domain approach to self-competence to evaluate self-esteem in a sample of children from the prefecture of Ioannina, Greece [8–15]. The aim of the study was to determine the associations between body weight, gender and self-esteem in Greek primary schoolchildren
Materials and methods
A cross-sectional study in 13 rural and 15 urban population of the prefecture Ioannina, Epirus, Greece was conducted. A total of 724 primary schoolchildren (mean age: 10.2 years) participated in the study (322 boys and 402 girls), recruited from 28 schools. Participants completed the Self-Perception Profile for Children (Harter's SPPC) and anthropometric measurements (weight, height and Body Mass Index (BMI) were obtained from all children (5-7).
Children with higher body weight had significantly lower self-esteem in athletic competence (Pearson's correlation coefficient, r = −0.37, p<0.01), physical appearance(r = −0.3, p<0.01), social acceptance (r = −0.29, p<0.01) and global self-worth (r = −0.37, p<0.01) compared with normal weight children. Girls scored lower in scholastic competence (Pearson's correlation coefficient, r = −0.09, p<0.05), social acceptance (r = −0.13, p<0.001) and global self-worth (r = −0.14, p<0.001) compared with boys. Children with low global self-worth have 29% more probability to be girl. (odds ratio=0.71, p<0.01, CI: 0.55-0.91).
High body weight impacts the self-perception of children entering adolescence, especially in girls, but in selected areas of competence. Children with high body weight are at particular risk of low global self-worth, scholastic competence and social acceptance. Quantifying risk of psychological distress should help in arguing for more resources in maintaining a normal body weight in children.
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