Weight status and perception of body image in children: The effect of maternal immigrant status

Nutrition Journal (Impact Factor: 2.6). 10/2012; 11(1):85. DOI: 10.1186/1475-2891-11-85
Source: PubMed


Recent studies have shown that body image perception is an important factor in weight control and may be influenced by culture and ethnicity. The aim of the present study was to assess the relationship between immigrant status of the mother and weight status and body image perception of the child.

In total, 2706 schoolchildren (1405 boys and 1301 girls) aged 8–9 years and their mothers participated in a cross-sectional survey in Emilia-Romagna region (northern Italy). Weight and height of the children were measured and Body Mass Index (BMI) was calculated. Actual and ideal body image perception by the children and by the mothers with respect to their children was evaluated according to Collins’ body image silhouettes.

The BMI values were significantly lower in children of immigrants than in children of Italian mothers (F:17.27 vs 17.99 kg/m2; M:17.77 vs 18.13 kg/m2). The prevalence of overweight/obesity was lower, and the prevalence of underweight higher, in children of immigrant mothers than in those of Italian mothers (overweight- F:21.3 vs 29.1%; M. 28.3 vs 31.4%; underweight- F:5.16 vs 3.84%; M:6.63 vs 2.82%). The children's body image perception was consistent with the differing pattern of nutritional status. In the comparison between actual and ideal figures, the Feel-Ideal Difference Index (FID) scores resulted different between the subsample with foreign-born mother in comparison to the native one (significantly lower in daughters of immigrants) (FID- F: 0.31 vs 0.57; M: 0.35 vs 0.32). There were significant differences in the choice of the ideal figure of the child between immigrant mothers and Italian mothers (FID- F: -0.05 vs 0.19; M: -0.35 vs −0.03): the ideal figure values were higher in the immigrant mothers of male children and lower in the Italian mothers of female children.

Our results suggest that cultural and behavioral factors linked to ethnicity play an important role in the nutritional status of children and in the perceived and ideal body image.

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Available from: Luciana Zaccagni
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    • "Body image was defined as “a person’s perceptions, thoughts, and feelings about his or her body” by Grogan [1] and it depends on various factors: psychological components and socio-cultural influences such as family, peers, and ethnicity [2-6]. No less important are the mass media which generate aesthetic ideals influencing the perception of one’s image and leading to a tortuous search for the ideal body: this creates real pressure that leads to internalization of a beauty ideal and to an inevitable desire to conform to it [7]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Body image perception depends on anthropometric and psychological factors. Body dissatisfaction is influenced by the socio-cultural environment and is associated with eating disorders and low self-esteem. This study examined the body image perception, the degree of dissatisfaction and the weight status perception inconsistency in relation to sex, weight status and amount of physical activity in a sample of university students. The participants were 734 university students (354 females aged 21.5 +/- 2.9 yrs and 380 males aged 22.1 +/- 3.6 yrs) recruited from the second year of the Sport Sciences degree program. A self-administered questionnaire was used to acquire socio-demographic and sport participation information. Height, weight, BMI and weight status were considered for each subject. Body image perception was assessed by a silhouette matching technique. A new index, FAI (Feel status minus Actual status Inconsistency), was used to assess weight status perception inconsistency. A large proportion of the sample had normal weight status. On average, females chose as feel status a significantly higher figure than the males (4.7 versus 3.8) and they would have liked to have a significantly thinner figure than the males (3.4 versus 3.6). Therefore, the mean FID (Feel minus Ideal Discrepancy) values (positive in both sexes) were significantly higher in females than in males, meaning higher dissatisfaction. The mean FAI values were positive in females and negative in males, indicating a tendency of the women to overestimate their weight status and of the men to underestimate it. Men were more physically active than women. Less active women showed significantly lower body weight and BMI than more active women. Men less engaged in physical activity showed significantly higher FID than more active men. These results show greater dissatisfaction and higher weight status perception consistency in females than in males among Italian university students examined. Our findings suggest that the FAI index can be very useful to evaluate the perceived weight status by body image in comparison to actual weight status assessed anthropometrically.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2014 · Journal of Translational Medicine
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    • "The positive association between maternal length of residency and nutrition knowledge is likely due to media exposure, friends and family, as well as health providers [18]. In many families, mothers are the primary food preparers in the household [19]. A study by Variyam et al reported a significant positive relationship between mothers’ nutrition knowledge and children’s diets; however, this influence decreases as children grow older [20]. "
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    ABSTRACT: The prevalence of obesity in U.S. has been rising at an alarming rate, particularly among Hispanic, African, and Asian minority groups. This trend is due in part to excessive calorie consumption and sedentary lifestyle. We sought to investigate whether parental origins influence eating behaviors in healthy urban middle school students. A multiethnic/racial population of students (N = 182) enrolled in the ROAD (Reduce Obesity and Diabetes) Study, a school-based trial to assess clinical, behavioral, and biochemical risk factors for adiposity and its co-morbidities completed questionnaires regarding parental origins, length of US residency, and food behaviors and preferences. The primary behavioral questionnaire outcome variables were nutrition knowledge, attitude, intention and behavior, which were then related to anthropometric measures of waist circumference, BMI z-scores, and percent body fat. Two-way analysis of variance was used to evaluate the joint effects of number of parents born in the U.S. and ethnicity on food preference and knowledge score. The Tukey-Kramer method was used to compute pairwise comparisons to determine where differences lie. Analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) was used to analyze the joint effects of number of parents born in the US and student ethnicity, along with the interaction term, on each adiposity measure outcome. Pearson correlation coefficients were used to examine the relationships between maternal and paternal length of residency in the US with measures of adiposity, food preference and food knowledge. African Americans had significantly higher BMI, waist circumference and body fat percentage compared to other racial and ethnic groups. Neither ethnicity/race nor parental origins had an impact on nutrition behavior. Mothers' length of US residency positively correlated with students' nutrition knowledge, but not food attitude, intention or behavior. Adiposity measures in children differ according to ethnicity and race. In contrast, food behaviors in this middle school sample were not influenced by parental origins. Longer maternal US residency benefited offspring in terms of nutrition knowledge only. We suggest that interventions to prevent obesity begin in early childhood.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2013 · International Journal of Pediatric Endocrinology
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    Full-text · Article · May 2013 · Atención Primaria
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