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Int J Eat Disord. 2000 Jan;27(1):74-82.

Body dissatisfaction and dieting in young children.

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Stanford University School of Medicine, Palo Alto, CA 94305-5719, USA.



To develop a broader understanding of young children's knowledge and beliefs about dieting and body dissatisfaction.


Sixty-two third through sixth-grade boys and girls completed audiotaped interviews and questionnaires regarding eating behavior, attitudes toward dieting, and body dissatisfaction.


Fifty percent of all children wanted to weigh less and 16% reported attempting weight loss. Children were well informed about dieting and were most likely to believe that dieting meant changing food choices and exercising as opposed to restricting intake. Their primary source of information was the family. Seventy-seven percent of children mentioned hearing about dieting from a family member, usually a parent.


Young children are knowledgeable about dieting and the concept of dieting does not necessarily mean caloric restriction to them. These data suggest that the family can play a powerful role in countering the development of eating concerns and body dissatisfaction in children.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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