Obesity and Self Esteem

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Malka Leibowitz
Psychology of Learning
Prof. Davis
Spring 2007

Does childhood obesity affect self-esteem?
Observation: Although childhood obesity may have detrimental consequences for childhood self-esteem, the prevalence and magnitude of this problem is controversial (Strauss 2000). In addition, the social and emotional effects of decreased self-esteem in obese children are unknown (Strauss 2000). Several investigators have suggested that psychosocial functioning may be related to the development and maintenance of obesity (Harris 1983; Harris & Smith 1983; Slochower 1983). Overweight youth are believed to be at a high risk for developing low self-esteem (Israel & Ivanova 2002). Over the past two decades there has been a marked increase in the prevalence of overweight and obesity in children worldwide (Janssen, Craig, Boyce, Pickett 2004).

Over the past few years our societal values have been revolved around being ‘thin'. Displayed on television, in magazines, and on billboards are the ultra thin models, including child models. Those who do not fit into the ‘thin' criteria may feel a decrease in self-esteem as a result of not feeling a sense of belonging in the societal ‘norm'. Childhood obesity has been found to be associated with numerous negative social and psychological ramifications (Janssen, Craig, Boyce, Pickett 2004). Children who are overweight or obese find themselves being a target of bullying, tormenting and teasing. Today, a concern of health professionals is to normalize the social and emotional functioning of obese children. There is limited evidence that suggests that overweight girls report lower general self-esteem than boys (Mendelson & White, 1985). According to the Body Mass Index (BMI) a child who is 20% over the average weight for their age is overweight and a child who is 40% over the average weight for their age is clinically obese.

The present study will examine the general, cognitive, social and physical...
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