Predictors of body image and self-esteem and changes over time among children and adolescents from low-income communities
Mount Saint Vincent University
This study aims to investigate the factors associated with body image and self-esteem among children and adolescents from economically disadvantaged neighbourhoods and to determine if these relationships change over time. One thousand children and adolescents participating in Better Beginnings, Better Futures (BBBF), a multidisciplinary longitudinal prevention project in Ontario, completed a Youth Self Report Form which gathered information on their body image and self-esteem, and had their height and weight measured in 2000 / 2001 (grade six) and again in 2003 / 2004 (grade nine). An Eating Behaviours Survey was completed to measure diet quality and demographic information came from a Parent Survey. The Social Cognitive Theory helps to define the models identified in this research. Children who met the Canada’s Food Guide (CFG) recommended intakes for fruit and vegetable consumption had an increased chance of being in the strong body image category by a factor of 2.487 (OR = 2.487, p = 0.029) as well, as average increases in their self-esteem by 0.621 points, on a twentypoint scale, (p = 0.020) in grade 6. Participation in physical activity with and without a coach when children were in grade 6 was shown to improve the child’s average body image by 0.201 and 0.278 points respectively, on a five-point scale (p = 0.050, p = 0.033) and average self-esteem by 0.754 and 0.501 points respectively, on a twenty-point scale (p = 0.000, p = 0.018). Participation in physical activity in grade 6 without a coach also improved a child’s odd of being in the strong body image category by a factor of 2.345 (OR = 2.345, p = 0.003) and high self-esteem category by a factor of 1.880 (OR = 1.880, p = 0.010). Participation in physical activity in grade 6 with a coach increased a child’s odds of being in the high self-esteem category by a factor of 2.030 (OR = 2.030, p = 0.001). As well, children who participated in physical activity more often (four or more times per week) demonstrated improved body image on average by 0.321 points (p = 0.005) and self-esteem on average by 1.452 points (p = 0.023), while children who participated less often (less than one time per week) demonstrated decreased body image with a coach on average by a factor of 0.254 (OR = 0.254, p = 0.003) and without a coach on average by a factor of 0.395 (OR = 0.395, p = 0.003) and self-esteem with a coach on average by a factor of 0.335 (OR = 0.335, p = 0.000), and without a coach on average by a factor of 0.499 (OR = 0.499, p = 0.011). Finally, obese children had decreased odds of being in the strong body image category in grade 6 by a factor of 0.366 (OR = 0.366, p = 0.004) and had an average decrease in body image by 0.316 points in grade 6 (p = 0.005) and by 0.414 points in grade 9 (p = 0.001). Longitudinally, sex of the child, participation in physical activity and weight status were related to a child’s body image or self-esteem. Models that predict body image and self-esteem in grade 6 cannot be used to predict the same in grade 9 because the factors that impact these change as children age. In conclusion, programming aimed at increasing fruit and vegetable intake and physical activity levels in children, and promoting a healthy body weight can help to promote a positive body image and self-esteem in children and adolescents.
Body Image , Nutrition - Children and Adolescents