After talking directly to more than 1,500 kids, a new study reported the number of children who believe they have a weight problem exceeds government estimates of the number of overweight youths, prompting some researchers to worry about body image issues and pressure to diet among kids.
The recently released Kid-Trition study conducted by Just Kid Inc., a kids-centric marketing firm, found more than one in four kids, or 27 percent, describe themselves as being either slightly or very overweight, compared to the 18 percent (or not quite one in five) of actual obese kids cited by the government’s Centers for Disease Control.
“With all the media attention focused on obesity, we may be causing a group of currently healthy kids who are especially sensitive to social acceptance and self-image to internalize the message of ‘obesity’ even if they are not overweight, thus triggering cognitive distortions of their own body image and susceptibility to serious eating disorders later in life,” said Michelle Poris, a child psychologist on staff at Just Kid Inc., in statement with the study’s release.
According to Kid-Trition’s findings, kids feel more pressure from their parents to eat healthy (85 percent) than to exercise (64 percent). The organization noted that stressing increased activity instead of promoting healthier foods seems to result in more nutritious eating and higher energy levels, which increases kid’s self esteem and sociability versus the other way around. Nutritious eating doesn’t necessarily lead to increased activity, it added.
Just Kid Inc.’s Kid-Trition study is the first and only quantitative study to look at childhood obesity from a kids’ point of view. It was fielded to a nationally representative sample of 1,536, 8- to 12-year-olds.