Reports of dieting among children: Effects of interview style and approach to information collection


School of Psychology, University of New South Wales, Sydney 2052, NSW, Australia


Recent reports have suggested that worrying about getting fat, and restrictive eating practices have been identified among pre-pubescent girls. This study sought to examine the extent to which interviewing styles and question or response types would differentially affect such reports about dieting among 40 third- and 40 sixth-grade girls. When these girls were asked if they had dieted, or if they intended to go on a diet in the future, the information-eliciting strategies interacted in different ways for the younger and older girls. As an external validation of their body-related attitudes, a second aim was to replicate Huon, Morris & Brown's (1990) body size preference study with children. Few girls identified the very thin body as their ‘ideal’, and their choices were not consistent with the claim that they might be dissatisfied with their body.