Aim. To report a correlational study of the relation of body mass index to children’s perceptions of physical appearance and global self-worth and depression, as mediated by their perceptions of parental teasing.
Background. The relation between depression and self-perception in children with obesity has been reported. Recently, parental factors were found to be related to childhood obesity. Little is known about the effects of perceived parental teasing on depression and self-perception in children.
Design. A descriptive correlational research design was used.
Methods. Data were collected from 455 children in the fifth and sixth grades in four provinces of South Korea using self-report questionnaires for measuring self-perception of physical appearance and global self-worth, depression and perceived parental teasing between October–December in 2009. The children’s weight and height information from school health records was used. Multiple regression analysis and the Sobel test were used to identify the mediating effect of perceived parental teasing.
Results. Among the children, 20% were overweight or obese. Although children with obesity did not differ in the level of depression from their normal weight counterparts, they demonstrated lower perceived physical appearance and higher perceived parental teasing. The mediating effects of perceived parental teasing were found for the relations between body mass index and self-perception of physical appearance and global self-worth, and body mass index and depression, respectively.
Conclusion. Obese children at risk of parental teasing should be identified to prevent their psychological problems. A well-designed intervention study is necessary to examine the effects of psycho-emotional interventions for obese children.