The application of the Yerkes-Dodson law in a childhood weight management program: examining weight dissatisfaction

J Pediatr Psychol. 2012 Jul;37(6):674-9. doi: 10.1093/jpepsy/jss040. Epub 2012 Feb 29.


Objective: To determine the effect of dissatisfaction with one's weight on outcomes in a weight management program.

Methods: Participants included 149 children between the ages of 11 and 14 years who were enrolled in an intensive weight loss intervention. All participants had a body mass index (BMI) ≥ 85th percentile. Children were divided into tertiles based on their level of weight dissatisfaction as assessed by the Kids' Eating Disorder Survey.

Results: Analysis revealed significant differences across levels of weight dissatisfaction categories for weight loss. Specifically, children in the moderate dissatisfaction group lost weight while participants in low and high groups gained weight over 6 months.

Conclusion: As the Yerkes-Dodson law would predict, these findings suggest that moderate levels of weight dissatisfaction are associated with improved outcomes in a weight management program.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Body Image / psychology*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Weight / physiology
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mexican Americans
  • Obesity / psychology*
  • Obesity / therapy
  • Personal Satisfaction
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Weight Loss / physiology*