Self-esteem and body dissatisfaction in young children: Associations with weight and perceived parenting style

Authors

  • Amanda TAYLOR,

    Corresponding author
    1. Food and Nutritional Sciences, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Adelaide, South Australia
    2. School of Psychology, the University of Adelaide North Terrace Campus, Adelaide, South Australia
      Amanda Taylor, CSIRO Food and Nutritional Sciences, PO Box 10041, Adelaide BC 5000, South Australia, Australia. Email: amanda.taylor@alumni.adelaide.edu.au
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Carlene WILSON,

    1. Food and Nutritional Sciences, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Adelaide, South Australia
    2. School of Psychology, the University of Adelaide North Terrace Campus, Adelaide, South Australia
    3. Cancer Council of South Australia, Eastwood
    4. Flinders Centre of Innovation in Cancer, Bedford Park, South Australia
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Amy SLATER,

    1. School of Psychology, Flinders University of South Australia, Bedford Park, South Australia
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Philip MOHR

    1. Food and Nutritional Sciences, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Adelaide, South Australia
    2. School of Psychology, the University of Adelaide North Terrace Campus, Adelaide, South Australia
    Search for more papers by this author

  • Funding source: The present work was funded by a CSIRO Preventative Health Flagship Top-Up Scholarship award. No conflict of interest is anticipated.

  • Conflict of interest: None.

Amanda Taylor, CSIRO Food and Nutritional Sciences, PO Box 10041, Adelaide BC 5000, South Australia, Australia. Email: amanda.taylor@alumni.adelaide.edu.au

Abstract

Background:  Parenting style has been associated with weight-related outcomes in children, but relationships between parenting, weight, and overweight-related psychological outcomes remain largely unstudied. The aim of the present study was to determine whether parenting was a moderator of the relationship between overweight and psychological outcomes in children.

Methods:  Participants were children aged 7–11 years and their primary caregivers (n = 158), recruited from primary schools across South Australia. Children completed measures of parenting style, self-esteem, and body dissatisfaction, and had their weight and height objectively measured. Parents completed measures of body dissatisfaction and depressive symptoms, and reported on their education. Regression analyses investigated associations between perceived parenting style, child weight, and outcomes of child self-esteem and body image.

Results:  Larger child body mass index (BMI) was negatively associated with child self-esteem and positively associated with child body dissatisfaction. Parental responsiveness was positively associated with child self-esteem, but parenting was not associated with child body dissatisfaction. Child weight and parenting styles were not found to interact in their association with child outcomes.

Conclusions:  Higher child BMI was associated with higher body dissatisfaction and lower self-esteem in a young, non-treatment-seeking sample. A responsive parenting style may assist in promoting child self-esteem, although it may not mitigate the association between excess weight and self-esteem in children.

Ancillary