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Association of body weight and gender with self-esteem in schoolchildren. Survey of Ioannina, Epirus, Greece. The Children study

Background

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 [14]. 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 [815]. 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).

Results

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).

Conclusions

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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Open Access This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 International License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Angelopoulos, P., Tsitsas, G., Milionis, H. et al. Association of body weight and gender with self-esteem in schoolchildren. Survey of Ioannina, Epirus, Greece. The Children study. Ann Gen Psychiatry 7 (Suppl 1), S116 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1186/1744-859X-7-S1-S116

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1186/1744-859X-7-S1-S116

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