Predictors of Fat Stereotypes among 9-Year-Old Girls and Their Parents

Authors

  • Kirsten Krahnstoever Davison,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Health Policy, Management and Behavior, University at Albany, State University of New York, Rensselaer, New York
      Department of Health Policy, Management and Behavior, University at Albany, SUNY, One University Place, Room 183, Rensselaer, NY 12144. E-mail: kdavison@albany.edu
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  • Leann Lipps Birch

    1. Department of Human Development and Family Studies. Pennsylvania State University, State College, Pennsylvania
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Department of Health Policy, Management and Behavior, University at Albany, SUNY, One University Place, Room 183, Rensselaer, NY 12144. E-mail: kdavison@albany.edu

Abstract

Objective:To assess familial links in fat stereotypes and predictors of stereotypes among girls and their parents.

Research Methods and Procedures:Fat stereotypes were assessed using a questionnaire developed for this study. Participants indicated the extent to which they agreed with nine statements about thin people (e.g., thin people are smart) and the same statements about fat people (e.g., fat people are smart). Predictors of fat stereotypes that were examined include weight status (BMI; girls and parents), education (parents), income (parents), self-investment in physical appearance (parents), maladaptive eating attitudes (girls), and parenting practices and peer interactions focused on body shape and weight loss (girls).

Results:Girls and parents exhibited fat stereotypes. Fathers who were more educated and had a higher family income were more likely to endorse fat stereotypes, as were mothers and fathers with a high investment in their physical appearance. Although no associations were found between girls’ and parents’ fat stereotypes, girls were more likely to endorse fat stereotypes when interactions with parents and peers focused on body shape and weight loss. Girls were also more likely to endorse fat stereotypes when they reported higher levels of maladaptive eating attitudes. No associations were found between weight status and fat stereotypes.

Discussion:Although there was no association between girls’ and parents’ fat stereotypes, girls were more likely to express negative attitudes about obesity and obese persons when parenting practices and interactions with peers promoted a lean body type, suggesting that there may be an implicit link between the lean ideal and fat stereotypes.

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