Associations Among Body Size, Body Image Perceptions, and Weight Loss Attempts Among African American, Latino, and White Youth

A Test of a Mediational Model

Published In: Journal of Pediatric Psychology, v. 39, no. 4, May 2014, p. 394-404

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2014

by Anna E. Epperson, Anna V. Song, Jan Wallander, Christine Markham, Paula Cuccaro, Marc N. Elliott, Mark A. Schuster

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OBJECTIVE: Little is known about influences on weight loss attempts, yet about one-half report making such attempts during adolescence. The aim was to examine the relationships among weight loss attempts, body size, and body perception in racially/ethnically diverse young adolescents. METHODS: 3954 African American, Latino, and White 5th-graders completed the Self-Perception Profile-Physical Appearance Scale and questions regarding body perceptions and past and current weight loss attempts, and had their weight and height measured. RESULTS: Latino youth most often and White youth least often reported weight loss attempts. Larger body size and negative body perception were related to more reported weight loss attempts in White and Latino youth. Body perception mediated the relationship between body size and weight loss attempts for White youth. CONCLUSION: Motivations to lose weight appear to differ among racial/ethnic groups, suggesting that interventions for healthy weight control in youth may need to target racial/ethnic groups differently.

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