Asian children have the highest levels of image dissatisfaction among all ethnic groups, a study has found. Different cultures have wide-ranging norms for ideal weight and shape, which can effect how children perceive their body image.
The study, led by Gary Foster, Ph.D., director of CORE and president-elect of the North American Association for the Study of Obesity was conducted at the Centre for Obesity Research and Education (CORE) at Temple University and it was found that an overweight or obese child can still be unhappy with his or her body, despite acceptance from within their ethnic group.
Culture-wise, the ideal body shape among Asian children is a lean one, while in African-American and Latino cultures, being lean is not the ideal body type.
In the study, data collected from 1,200 fourth-, fifth-, and sixth-graders from 10 schools was looked at so as to determine the level of satisfaction each student had with his or her body image.
After answering the questionnaire to determine how satisfied the participants were with their bodies, the data was analysed, taking into account race/ethnicity, gender and weight.
The analyses found that obese and overweight children of all ethnicities were unsatisfied with their body image with Asian children having the highest levels of dissatisfaction among all ethnic groups tested.
"This unhappiness is yet another consequence of childhood obesity," Foster said. "These data illustrate when treating overweight children, it's important to attend the psychological consequences that excess weight confers, no matter what the ethnic group," he said.
Foster said that the study provided a rich sampling for a better understanding of how body image is perceived across different ethnic backgrounds.