Examining the Potential Unintended Effects of a Healthful Living Curriculum Upon Children’s Weight-Related Beliefs, Body Satisfaction, and Body Build Stereotypes

Jennifer Paff Ogle, Jan Carroll, Brian Butki, Mary Lynn Damhorst, Susan Baker

Abstract


This exploratory work was guided by the question of whether health education messages about food and exercise might inadvertently influence children’s beliefs about weight controllability, body satisfaction, weight self-assessments, desire to alter weight, and body build stereotypes. Participants were 80 children (38 boys, 42 girls) aged 7 to 13 years enrolled in a week-long “FunLIFE” summer camp offered at a large university. FunLIFE was created in response to the childhood obesity crisis and focuses upon Learning to Improve Fitness and Eating (thus, the acronym “LIFE”). Pre- and posttest questionnaires were administered at four camp sessions. Findings indicated that participation in FunLIFE camp did not influence children’s weight controllability beliefs, level of body satisfaction, their self-assessments of their weight, or their desire to alter or maintain their weight. Exposure to the FunLIFE curriculum did, however, positively impact children’s stereotypes about both overweight and thin children. Findings and implications are discussed.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5195/jyd.2008.289

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