Differential Child Body Perception in Children Ages 7–12 and Parents in Relation to Exercise and Eating Behaviors
Current Developments in Nutrition
Objectives Individuals with distorted perceptions of body image may be at an increased risk of developing eating disorders and mental illnesses. Many studies have observed impaired body image perceptions in adolescents and adults over the age of twelve. However, there are few studies that have examined this in young children. Furthermore, few studies that examine body image differences between parents and children exist. The purpose of this study was to investigate differential child body
... al child body perceptions in children ages 7–12 and parents in relation to exercise and eating behaviors. Methods In a cross-sectional study, two separate questionnaires were designed; one for parents (n = 145) and the other for their paired children (n = 145). Questionnaires included anthropometric, exercise and eating behavior, and somatotype questions to assess perceived current and perceived ideal body type. Results Child responses of child's current body type were significantly greater than parent responses of child's current body type (P = 0.022). Child responses of child's ideal body type were significantly lesser than parent responses of child's ideal body type (P = 0.001). Child-reported child body type discrepancy (current body type – ideal body type) was significantly greater (0.414 ± 0.902) than parent-reported child body type discrepancy (−0.014 ± 0.717) (P = 0.001). There was a significant positive correlation between body image discrepancy and reports of faster eating pace (coefficient = 0.237, P = 0.004) and a significant negative correlation between body image discrepancy and family physical activity (coefficient = –0.183, P = 0.017). Conclusions Significant discrepancies between perceived current and ideal body type were observed in children ages 7–12. Faster eating pace and family physical activity may be contributing factors to body type discrepancy among children ages 7–12, though more research is needed to identify and examine other potential factors such as social media usage and perceptions of physical activity. This research indicates a need for increased education aimed at forming and maintaining healthy body image perceptions among young children ages 7–12. Funding Sources None.