Self-esteem and body dissatisfaction in young children: Associations with weight and perceived parenting style

Amanda Taylor, Carlene Wilson, Amy Slater, Philip Mohr

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    22 Citations (Scopus)


    Background: Parenting style has been associated with weight-related outcomes in children, but relationships between parenting, weight, and overweight-related psychological outcomes remain largely unstudied. The aim of the present study was to determine whether parenting was a moderator of the relationship between overweight and psychological outcomes in children. Methods: Participants were children aged 7-11 years and their primary caregivers (n = 158), recruited from primary schools across South Australia. Children completed measures of parenting style, self-esteem, and body dissatisfaction, and had their weight and height objectively measured. Parents completed measures of body dissatisfaction and depressive symptoms, and reported on their education. Regression analyses investigated associations between perceived parenting style, child weight, and outcomes of child self-esteem and body image. Results: Larger child body mass index (BMI) was negatively associated with child self-esteem and positively associated with child body dissatisfaction. Parental responsiveness was positively associated with child self-esteem, but parenting was not associated with child body dissatisfaction. Child weight and parenting styles were not found to interact in their association with child outcomes. Conclusions: Higher child BMI was associated with higher body dissatisfaction and lower self-esteem in a young, non-treatment-seeking sample. A responsive parenting style may assist in promoting child self-esteem, although it may not mitigate the association between excess weight and self-esteem in children.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)25-35
    Number of pages11
    JournalClinical Psychologist
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2012


    • body image
    • paediatric overweight
    • parenting style
    • self-esteem


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