The Development of Body Image and Weight Bias in Childhood

Adv Child Dev Behav. 2017;52:269-298. doi: 10.1016/bs.acdb.2016.10.006. Epub 2016 Dec 9.


Negative body image attitudes are related to the onset of disordered eating, poor self-esteem, general mental health problems, and obesity. In this chapter, we will review the nature of body image attitudes in girls and boys in early (approximately 3-7 years old) and later childhood (approximately 8-11 years old). The body image attitudes explored in this chapter include body image attitudes related to the self, with a focus on body dissatisfaction, and body image attitudes related to others, with a focus on weight bias. Issues of measurement of body image and weight bias will first be explored. In light of measurement considerations, the prevalence and predictors of body dissatisfaction and related concerns, and weight bias will be examined. The chapter will conclude with a review of promising directions in the prevention of body dissatisfaction and weight bias in children.

Keywords: Body dissatisfaction; Body image; Children; Prevention; Weight bias; Weight stigma.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Attention*
  • Attitude*
  • Body Dysmorphic Disorders / epidemiology
  • Body Dysmorphic Disorders / psychology
  • Body Image*
  • Body Size
  • Body Weight*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / epidemiology
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Mother-Child Relations
  • Obesity / psychology
  • Personal Satisfaction
  • Prejudice / psychology
  • Self Concept
  • Sex Factors
  • Socialization
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Stereotyping
  • Thinness / psychology