Do parents or siblings engage in more negative weight-based talk with children and what does it sound like? A mixed-methods study

Body Image. 2016 Sep;18:27-33. doi: 10.1016/j.bodyim.2016.04.008. Epub 2016 May 26.


The current mixed-methods study examined the prevalence of negative weight-based talk across multiple family members (i.e., mother, father, older/younger brother, older/younger sister) and analyzed qualitative data to identify what negative weight-based talk sounds like in the home environment. Children (n=60; ages 9-12) and their families from low income and minority households participated in the study. Children reported the highest prevalence of negative weight-based talk from siblings. Among specific family members, children reported a higher prevalence of negative weight-based talk from mothers and older brothers. In households with younger brothers, children reported less negative weight-based talk compared to other household compositions. Both quantitative and qualitative results indicated that mothers' negative weight-based talk focused on concerns about child health, whereas fathers' and siblings' negative weight-based talk focused on child appearance and included teasing. Results suggest that interventions targeting familial negative weight-based talk may need to be tailored to specific family members.

Keywords: Children; Obesity; Parents; Siblings; Weight talk; Weight teasing.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Image / psychology*
  • Body Weight*
  • Child
  • Family Relations / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Poverty
  • Qualitative Research
  • Siblings / psychology*