The present study was designed to determine the weight-based stigmatization of Mexican overweight (OW) and non-OW children by their mothers and peers, who rated both boys and girls with varying physical characteristics. Four hundred and thirty-two fifth and sixth graders and 342 mothers participated in the study. Children were administered a questionnaire displaying six drawings. Participants’ responses were numbered in order of preference from 1 to 6 (most to least well liked). Participants were divided into categories based on socioeconomic status, ethnicity, and current body mass index. The majority of children chose the child in a wheelchair as the preferred friend. Boys and girls, Indian and non-Indian, with and without risk of OW chose the obese peer as the least-preferred friend. Non-OW girls and their mothers liked the obese child less than non-OW boys and their mothers. Agreement correlations between mothers and children were rho = 0.19 (P = 0.0001), rho = 0.17 (P = 0.001), and rho = 0.13 (P = 0.02) for the healthy child, child with missing arm, and obese child, respectively. There was a strong correlation between Indian mothers and non-OW daughters (rho = 0.54, P = 0.009) on choosing the drawing of the obese child as the least preferred friend. These data suggest an influential effect of the negative attitude of mothers toward the obese child, which are projected to their children.
Childhood obesityStigmatizationDiscriminationOverweight Mexican children