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Factors influencing children's judgments of overweight peers


Counseling Program, Department of Human Services, College of Education, Criminal Justice and Human Services, Mail Location 0068, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio, 45221, USA. Email:


Objective. This study assessed children's perceptions of an overweight or non-overweight target of name-calling. Methods. Participants were 4th and 5th grade students. Children selected a line drawing of an overweight or a non-overweight child as a target. After this, they viewed each line drawing again and rated each child's social attraction, niceness, experience of negative emotions, size, and popularity (whether others would like the child). Finally, children provided ideas for improving acceptance of the line-drawing they selected as a target of name-calling. Results. Findings from regression analyses indicated that children who reported higher levels of victimization and selected the overweight child as a target reported higher social attraction for this target. Children's weight status and their victimization interacted to influence ratings of niceness and negative emotions. Children reported that peers would like the overweight line drawing less than the non-overweight one. Conclusions. Children tended to report that an overweight child would be a target of name-calling and be less accepted. Our findings provided partial support for the idea that children's own victimization status influenced ratings of social attraction, niceness, and negative emotions. Longitudinal studies will provide information on change in perceptions over time.