The relationship between participation in aesthetic, or appearance-oriented, sports and weight concerns was assessed among young girls.
Participants were part of a larger longitudinal study and included 197 and 192 girls and their mothers when girls were 5 and 7 years, respectively. At each age, girls’ weight concerns and sport participation were assessed and girls were classified as participating in aesthetic sports (dance, gymnastics, cheerleading, baton twirling, swimming, aerobics, figure skating), non-aesthetic sports (volleyball, soccer, basketball, softball, hockey, tennis, martial arts, track) or no sports.
Girls in the aesthetic sport group reported higher weight concerns than girls in the nonaesthetic and no sport groups at ages 5 and 7 years. In addition, girls participating in aesthetic sports at ages 5 and 7 years reported the highest weight concerns at age 7.
Participation in aesthetic, or appearance-oriented, sports may foster a heightened focus on weight and body shape among girls.
Keywords: aesthetic sports, young girls, weight concerns, body shape