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Cause and Effect Beliefs and Self-esteem of Overweight Children


Requests for reprints to: Jeanne Walsh Pierce, Department of Psychology, Institute of Psychiatry, DeCrespigny Park, London, SE5 8AF, U.K.


In this study, beliefs of the cause and effect of weight were examined in a sample of 9- to 11-year-old clinically overweight children. Lower self-esteem was found in the children who believed they are responsible for their overweight as compared to those who attributed their overweight to an external cause. Lower self-esteem was also found in the children who believed that their overweight hinders their social interaction. Other evidence gathered here lends some support to the view that the overweight child is more vulnerable to low self-esteem. The negative experiences in school and at home that the children reported and the premise that childhood obesity is a stigmatising condition is discussed.