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Keywords:

  • adolescent;
  • weight perception;
  • obesity;
  • eating disorders;
  • self-esteem

Abstract

Objective:

To examine sex- and race/ethnicity-specific relationships between adolescents' self-esteem and weight perception.

Method:

Descriptive analysis and logistic regression of Wave II of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (N = 6,427 males, 6,574 females; ages 11–21) examined associations between low self-esteem and perceived overweight within body mass index (BMI) percentile categories, controlling for sociodemographics and stratified by sex and race/ethnicity.

Results:

25.1% and 8% of normal weight females and males, respectively, perceived themselves as overweight, with variation by race/ethnicity. Low self-esteem was most strongly associated with misperceived overweight in moderate BMI percentile categories (males: OR = 2.34; 95% CI: 1.60–3.41; females: OR = 2.39; 95% CI: 1.82, 3.16). Odds of correctly perceived overweight were higher for low (versus high) self-esteem in white and black females but not males of any race/ethnicity.

Discussion:

Understanding subgroup differences by race/ethnicity in perceived overweight-self-esteem relationships may inform eating disorders' prevention strategies. © 2009 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Int J Eat Disord 2010