Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 34, Issue 6, pp 651–661 | Cite as

A Prospective Study of Individual Factors in the Development of Weight and Muscle Concerns Among Preadolescent Children

  • Marissa Saling
  • Lina A. Ricciardelli
  • Marita P. McCabe


The present study was designed to assess body mass index (BMI), self-esteem, parent and peer relations, negative affect, and perfectionism, as predictors of dieting, food preoccupation, and muscle preoccupation, in 326 preadolescent children (150 girls and 176 boys) aged between 8 and 10 years. Preadolescents were tested twice over a 10-month period. BMI was found to be the main predictor of girls' and boys' dieting, both cross-sectionally and longitudinally. Perfectionism was an important predictor of boys' dieting and muscle preoccupation, while self-esteem, peer relations and negative affect predicted girls' muscle preoccupation. The findings are discussed in relation to past research with both preadolescents and adolescents.

Key Words

weight and muscle concerns preadolescent children self-esteem parent and peer relations perfectionism 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Abramovitz, B. A., and Birch, L. L. (2000). Five-year-old girls' ideas about dieting are predicted by mothers' dieting. J. Am. Diet. Assoc. 1000: 1157–1163.Google Scholar
  2. Attie, I., and Brooks-Gunn, J. (1989). Development of eating problems in adolescent girls: A longitudinal study. Dev. Psychol. 25: 70–79.Google Scholar
  3. Barlow, S. E., and Dietz, W. H. (1998). Obesity evaluation and treatment: Expert committee recommendations. J. Pediatr. 102: e29.Google Scholar
  4. Basow, S. A. (1992). Gender Stereotypes and Roles (3rd edn.). Brooks/Cole, Pacific Grove, CA.Google Scholar
  5. Blouin, A. G., and Goldfield, G. S. (1995). Body image and steroid use in male bodybuilders. Int. J. Eating Disord. 8: 93–100.Google Scholar
  6. Braet, C., and Wydhooge, K. (2000). Dietary restraint in normal weight and overweight children: A cross-sectional study. Int. J. Obesity 24: 314–318.Google Scholar
  7. Drewnowski, A., Kurth, C. L., and Krahn, D. D. (1995). Effects of body image on dieting, exercise and steroid use in adolescent males. Int. J. Eating Disord. 17: 381–386.Google Scholar
  8. Dwyer, T., and Gibbons, L. E. (1994). The Australian schools health and fitness survey: Physical fitness related to blood pressure but not lipoproteins. Circulation 89: 1539–1544.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Flett, G. L., Hewitt, P. L., Boucher, D. J., Davidson, L. A., and Munro, Y. (1992). The Child-Adolescent Perfectionism Scale: Development, validation and association with adjustment. Department of Psychology Reports (No. 203). York University, Toronto, Canada.Google Scholar
  10. Flett, G. L., Hewitt, P. L., and Davidson, L. (1990). Perfectionism and perceived competence in children. Can. Psychol 39: 409.Google Scholar
  11. French, S. A., Story, M., Downes, B., Resnik, M. D., and Blum, R. W. (1995). Frequent dieting among adolescents: Psychosocial and health behaviour correlates. Am. J. Public Health 85: 695–701.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Furnham, A., and Calnan, A. (1998). Eating disturbance, self-esteem, reasons for exercising and body weight dissatisfaction in adolescent males. Eur. Eating Disord. Rev. 6: 58–72.Google Scholar
  13. Gardner, R. M., Sorter, R. G., and Friedman, B. N. (1997). Developmental changes in children's body images. J. Soc. Behav. Pers. 12: 1019–1036.Google Scholar
  14. Gardner, R. M., Stark, K., Friedman, B. N., and Jackson, N. A. (2000). Predictors of eating disorder scores in children ages 6 through 14: A longitudinal study. J. Psychosom. Res. 49: 199–205.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Guillen, E. O., and Barr, S. I. (1994). Nutrition, dieting, and fitness messages in a magazine for adolescent women, 1979–1990. J. Adolesc. Health 15: 464–472.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hewitt, P. L., Caelian, C. F., Flett, G. L., Sherry, S. B., Collins, L., and Flynn, C. A. (2002). Perfectionism in children: Associations with depression, anxiety and anger. Pers. Indiv. Differenc. 32: 1049–1061.Google Scholar
  17. Hewitt, P. L., Flett, G. L., and Ediger, E. (1995). Perfectionism traits and perfectionistic self-presentation in eating disorder attitudes, characteristics, and symptoms. Int. J. Eating Disord. 18: 317–326.Google Scholar
  18. Hill, A. J., and Franklin, J. A. (1998). Mothers, daughters, and dieting: Investigating the transmission of weight control. Br. J. Clin. Psychol. 37: 3–13.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Holt, K., and Ricciardelli, L .A. (2002). Social comparisons and negative affect as indicators of problem eating and muscle preoccupation among children. J. Appl. Dev. Psychol. 23: 285–304.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Joiner, T. E., Jr., Catanzaro, S. J., and Laurent, J. (1996). Tripartite structure of positive and negative affect, depression, and anxiety in child and adolescent psychiatric inpatients. J. Abnorm. Psychol. 105: 401–409.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Keel, P. K., Fulkerson, J. A., and Leon, G. R. (1997). Disordered eating precursors in pre-and early adolescent girls and boys. J. Youth Adolesc. 26: 203–216.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Keel, P. K., Klump, K. A., Leon, G. R., and Fulkerson, J. A. (1998). Disordered eating in adolescent males from a school-based sample. Int. J. Eating Disord. 23: 125–132.Google Scholar
  23. Kelly, C., Ricciardelli, L. A., and Clarke, J. D. (1999). Problem eating attitudes and behaviors in young children. Int. J. Eating Disord. 25: 281–286.Google Scholar
  24. Lask, B., and Bryant-Waugh, R. (2000). Anorexia Nervosa and Related Eating Disorders in Childhood and Adolescence. Psychology Press, East Sussex, UK.Google Scholar
  25. Lawrence, C. M., and Thelen, M. H. (1995). Body image, dieting, and self-concept: Their relation in African-American and Caucasian Children. J. Clin. Child Psychol. 24: 41–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Leon, G. R., Fulkerson, J A., Perry, C. L., and Dube, A. (1994). Family influences, school behaviours, and risk for later development of an eating disorder. J. Youth Adolesc. 23: 499–515.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Leon, G. R., Fulkerson, J. A., Perry, C. L., Keel, P. K., and Klump, K. L. (1999). Three to four year prospective evaluation of personality and behavioral risk factors for later disordered eating in adolescent girls and boys. J. Youth Adolesc. 28: 181–196.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Lowes, J., and Tiggemann, M. (2003). Body dissatisfaction, dieting awareness and the impact of parental influences in young children. Br. J. Health Psychol. 8: 135–147.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Maloney, M. J., McGuire, J., Daniels, S. R., and Specker, B. (1989). Dieting behavior and eating attitudes in children. Pediatrics 84: 482–489.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. Markula, P. (1995). Firm but shapely, fit but sexy, strong but thin: The postmodern aerobicizing female bodies. Sociol. Sport J. 12: 424–453.Google Scholar
  31. Marsh, H. W. (1990). Self-Description Questionnaire-I. University of Western Sydney, Sydney.Google Scholar
  32. Martin, G. C., Wertheim, E. H., Prior, M., Smart, D., Sanson, A., and Oberklaid, F. (2000). A longitudinal study of the role of childhood temperament in the later development of eating concerns. Int. J. Eating Disord. 27: 150–162.Google Scholar
  33. McCabe, M. P., and Ricciardelli, L. A. (2003). Body image and strategies to lose weight and increase muscles among boys and girls. Health Psychol. 22: 39–46.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. McCreary, D. R., and Sasse, D. K. (2000). An exploration of the drive for muscularity in adolescent boys and girls. J. Am. Coll. Health 48: 297–304.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  35. McVey, G. L., Pepler, D., Davis, R., Flett, G. L., and Abdolell, M. (2002). Risk and protective factors associated with disordered eating during early adolescence. J. Early Adolesc. 22: 75–95.Google Scholar
  36. Oliver, K. A., and Thelen, M. (1996). Children's perceptions of peer influence on eating concerns. Behav. Ther. 27: 25–39.Google Scholar
  37. Phares, V., Steinberg, A. R., and Thompson, J. K. (2004). Gender differences: Body image disturbance, self-worth, and psychological functioning in preadolescent children. J. Youth Adolesc. 33: 421–429.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Ricciardelli, L. A., and McCabe, M. P. (2001). Children's body image concerns and eating disturbance: A review of the literature. Clin. Psychol. Rev. 21: 325–344.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  39. Ricciardelli, L. A., and McCabe, M. P. (2002). Psychometric evaluation of the Body Change Inventory: An assessment instrument for adolescent boys and girls. Eating Behav. 3: 45–59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Ricciardelli, L. A., and McCabe, M. P. (2004). A biopsychosocial model of disordered eating and the pursuit of muscularity in adolescent boys. Psychol. Bull. 130: 179–205.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Smolak, L., and Levine, M. P. (1994). Psychometric properties of the Children's Eating Attitude Test. Int. J. Eating Disord. 16: 275–282.Google Scholar
  42. Smolak, L., and Levine, M. P. (2001). Body image in children. In Thompson, J. K., and Smolak, L. (eds.), Body Image, Eating Disorders, and Obesity in Youth. American Psychological Association, Washington, DC, pp. 41–66.Google Scholar
  43. Smolak, L., Levine, M. P., and Thompson, J. K. (2001). The use of the Sociocultural Attitudes Towards Appearance Questionnaire with middle school boys and girls. Int. J. Eating Disord. 29: 216–223.Google Scholar
  44. Thomas, K., Ricciardelli, L. A., and Williams, R. J. (2000). Gender traits and self-concept as indicators of problem eating and body dissatisfaction among children. Sex Roles 43: 441–458.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Thompson, J. K., and Smolak, K. (2001). Body image, eating disorders and obesity in youth: The future is now. In Thompson, J. K., and Smolak, L. (eds.), Body Image, Eating Disorders, and Obesity in Youth: Assessment, Prevention, and Treatment. American Psychological Association, Washington, DC, pp. 1–22.Google Scholar
  46. Tiggemann, M., and Wilson-Barrett, E. (1998). Children's figure ratings: Relationship to self-esteem and negative stereotyping. Int. J. Eating Disor. 23: 83–88.Google Scholar
  47. Veron-Guidry, S., Williamson, D. A., and Netemeyer, R. G. (1997). Structural modeling analysis of body dysphoria and eating disorder symptoms in preadolescent girls. Eating Disord. 5: 15–27.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marissa Saling
    • 1
  • Lina A. Ricciardelli
    • 2
  • Marita P. McCabe
    • 3
  1. 1.Deakin UniversityMelbourneAustralia
  2. 2.School of PsychologyDeakin UniversityBurwoodAustralia
  3. 3.Deakin UniversityAustralia

Personalised recommendations