Racial/ethnic differences on the body image perceptions and weight concerns of fourth grade girls

Document Type



Master of Science (MS)


Dietetics and Nutrition

First Advisor's Name

Fatma Huffman

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Lilly Langer

Third Advisor's Name

Susan Himburg

Date of Defense



The purpose of this study was to determine the racial and ethnic differences on body image perceptions and weight concerns of fourth grade girls. A purposive sample of 182 fourth grade girls were eligible to participate, 166 were included in the data analysis. The Children's Eating Attitude Test (ChEAT) and a Dieting and Demographic Questionnaire (DDQ) were used to determine eating attitudes of fourth grade girls. A pictoral instrument that was modified from the original was used to assess body image. Anthropometric data was assessed and body mass index (BMI) values were used to classify subjects into percentiles.

Results revealed that 56% of all fourth grade girls studied wanted to be thinner and 53% had tried to lose weight. Significantly more non-Hispanic white (NHW) girls reported wanting to be thinner than non-Hispanic black (NHB) and H girls (65.5% vs.32% and 47%, respectively, P=0.005) No significant racial/ethnic differences were revealed for the ChEAT scores. However, 19% of all subjects studied fell into the category indicative of anorexia nervosa. H girls who were less than the 85" %tile for BMI chose significantly smaller figures as their perceived body image (3.5±0.7) than both NHB and NHW girls (4.0±0.6 and 3.9±0.5, respectively, P<0.01).

These findings demonstrated that weight concerns were prevalent among girls ages 9- 11 years. NHW and H girls may have more concerns about their body size and shape than their NHB counterparts. Implementing intervention programs at an early age may prevent eating disorders in adolescence and adulthood.



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