Weight attitudes in 3- to 5-year-old children: Age differences and cross-sectional predictors Academic Article uri icon


  • We examined weight attitudes in 118 3- to 5-year-old girls and boys. Children completed an interview in which they were asked to select a figure to represent a child with positive or negative characteristics from an array of figures varying from very thin to large, and also a figure representing their own perceived size. Mothers' body dissatisfaction, internalization of the thin ideal and dieting were assessed. Children chose larger figures to represent negative compared to positive characteristics. The figure size selected for negative characteristics was significantly greater in 5- than 3-year-olds but there was no age variation in figure size selected for positive characteristics. Children's own perceived body size positively predicted the figure size selected for positive characteristics. Maternal body image attitudes predicted figure size selection for both positive and negative characteristics. Findings suggest children's social environments are important in the development of negative and positive weight attitudes.

publication date

  • September 2012