Even Preschoolers View the Overweight
FRIDAY, April 13 (HealthDay News) -- Many preschool children
have a negative impression of overweight children, a Canadian study
The study included 21 boys and 20 girls between 2 and 5 years
old at five early learning and day care centers in Toronto. The
children heard four stories where one child in each story does or
says something nice and the other child does or says something
After each story, the children were shown an illustration of two
accompanying figures -- one overweight and one normal weight --
without any facial features and asked to pick which figure was mean
and which one was nice.
Nearly 44 percent of the children chose the overweight child as
the mean one in all four stories. Just over 2 percent chose the
overweight child as the nice one in all four stories, the Ryerson
University researchers found.
The researchers also noticed that the children's negative
perceptions of overweight children increased with age.
"The preschoolers that we worked with in this study tended to have these negative perceptions," study co-author Aurelia Di Santo, a professor in the school of early childhood education, said in a university news release. "That tells us we need to pay more attention to what's happening during the preschool years."
Parents, caregivers and early-childhood educators should
consider their attitudes about body image and try not to project
negative ideas onto children, the researchers said.
"We need to reinforce positive values about body image in young children, especially when there are activities at home or in early learning centers that involve discussions on healthy eating," Di Santo said. "We also need to really listen to what children are saying about body image and work with that."
The study was published in the February issue of the
Journal of Early Childhood Research.
The Nemours Foundation has more about
obesity in children.
Copyright © 2012
. All rights reserved.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.