Intrapersonal predictors of weight bias internalization among elementary school children

Michaela Silvia Gmeiner, Petra Warschburger
Weight-related stigmatization is a widespread problem. Particularly the internalization of weight-related stereotypes and prejudices (weight bias internalization, WBI) is related to mental and physical health impairments. To date, little is known about the risk factors of WBI. Previous studies are mainly cross-sectional and based on adult samples. As childhood is a sensitive period for the development of a healthy self-concept, we examined predictors of WBI in children. Methods The final sample
more » ... ds The final sample included 1,463 schoolchildren (6–11 years, 51.7% female) who took part in a prospective study consisting of three measurement waves. The first two waves delivered data on objective weight status and self-reported weight-related teasing, body dissatisfaction, relevance of one's own figure, self-esteem and depressive symptoms; WBI was measured during the third wave. To examine predictors of WBI, we ran hierarchical regression analyses and exploratory mediation analyses. Results Lower parental education level, higher child weight status, female gender, experience of teasing, higher body dissatisfaction, higher figure-relevance, and higher depression scores were found to be predictive for higher WBI scores. Body dissatisfaction (only for girls) and the relevance of one's own figure (both genders) mediated the association between self-esteem and WBI; no weight-related differences were observed. Conclusions Our study offers longitudinal evidence for variables that enable the identification of children who are at risk for WBI. Thus, the findings deliver starting points for interventions aimed at the prevention of adverse health developments that come along with WBI.
doi:10.25932/publishup-48230 fatcat:nvser35dszexbczrzy2qxhw5ay