The distributions of key study variables are presented in . Study subjects had a mean BMI and waist circumference z-scores of 2.2 and 1.5 respectively. There were no significant differences in age, BMI, or waist circumference between boys and girls. Of note, mothers reported very high dissatisfaction with their children’s body size, with a mean of −6.2, indicating that almost all mothers reported near the maximum discrepancy between their child’s ideal size and current size. In fact, 95% of all mothers reported within two ratings of the maximum discrepancy between ideal and current figures.
Characteristics of Study Participants
With regard to body size dissatisfaction and self-worth, there were no significant differences between boys and girls except for perception of physical appearance, on which girls scored significantly lower than boys t
(110) = 1.99, p
≤ .05, Cohen’s d
= .38 (). We next compared our study sample’s mean global self-worth score with published norms from the HSPPC (Harter, 1985
). Sixth grade published norms for HSPPC were used, as that was the mean age of our study sample. Two-sample t-tests were conducted separately for boys and girls, as norms are only available separately (). Mean scores for both boys and girls were lower than the general community norms for perception of physical appearance t
(262) = 3.26, p
= .001, Cohen’s d
= .40; t
(278) = 2.47, p
= .01, Cohen’s d
= .30, respectively, and athletic competence t
(262) = 4.01, p
< .001, Cohen’s d
= .50; t
(278) = 2.41, p
= .02, Cohen’s d
= −.30, respectively (). There were no significant differences in global self-worth between the study sample and the general norm values.
Self-worth Among Obese Latino Youth Compared to Reference Norma
Correlations between the key variables in the study reveal important linkages between perceptions, attitudes and biometric data (). BMI and waist circumference z-scores were highly correlated with each other. Waist circumference was negatively related to both the child’s and mothers’ dissatisfaction with the child’s body size (Child BD and Mother Child BD respectively), whereas BMI was negatively related only to Mother Child BD. Maternal dissatisfaction with her own body size was positively correlated with maternal BMI and Mother Child BD. BMI and waist circumference z-scores were unrelated to age, but interestingly, younger children tended to have greater body dissatisfaction. In terms of self-worth, the three subscales (perception of physical appearance, athletic competence and global self-worth) were strongly correlated with each other, but only global self-worth was significantly correlated with Child BD, with the higher the global self-worth, the lower the Child BD. Youth with higher waist circumferences reported lower athletic competence. The self-worth variables were not significantly associated with any of the maternal characteristics.
Correlations among key study variables
To assess further the relationship of maternal characteristics (acculturation, maternal body size dissatisfaction, and maternal dissatisfaction with her child’s body) to child body size dissatisfaction, a hierarchical linear regression was performed, controlling for child’s age, sex, and waist circumference (). The regression equation was significant (F(5, 106) = 6.12, p < .001). Specifically, younger children, youth with less acculturated mothers, and youth with mothers who reported greater dissatisfaction with their child’s body size, reported greater body size dissatisfaction.
Regression Predicting Child Body Dissatisfaction