Body Size Stigmatization in Preschool Children: The Role of Control Attributions

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Objective: The current study assessed preschool-age children's control attributions for weight and the relationship of these attributions to attitudes and behavioral intentions toward children of different body sizes. Methods: Forty-two children (mean age = 5.2 years) were interviewed about the adjectives they attributed to figures of different sizes, their preference for size in playmates, and their beliefs about children's ability to control their own weight. Results: Adjective ratings for obese figures were the most negative, with no differences found for thin and average figures; the heaviest figure was also chosen less often than other figures to be a playmate. Internal attributions of control for weight were related to less positive adjective ratings for the heavier figure but not to children's friendship selections. Conclusion: Results suggest that the relationship between body size stigmatization and control attributions are consistent with attribution theory for young children. Practical implications of these results and possible interventions are discussed.



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