Online Program

African American Children's Perceptions of an Overweight Peer as a Victim of Name-Calling

Monday, November 2, 2015

Laura Nabors, PhD, ABPP, School of Human Services, CECH, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH
Ashley Merianos, PhD, CHES, School of Human Services, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH
Oladunni Oluwoye, PhDc, Department of Health Promotion and Education, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH
Children with physical differences often face stigma which can negatively impact their social development. Feeling sympathy for an overweight child may be a protective factor and the context may also impact children’s attitudes toward a peer who is overweight, and this study examined both of these ideas. Participants for this study were 107 children (60 girls and 47 boys), between 8-12 years, who were African American. Children viewed same-gender line drawings of a child who was overweight and a child of average weight; below the drawings was a story about name-calling. Participants selected the victim of name-calling and rated their perceptions (popularity, sympathy toward, wanting to go to a party with child) of the drawing selected as a victim. The overweight child was selected as the victim of name-calling most frequently.  A MANCOVA (age = covariate) assessed the influence of gender and drawing for questions assessing acceptance. Girls were more apt to feel sorry for their victim than boys. Girls wanted to go to a party with the child (victim) more often than boys. Children selecting the overweight drawing reported lower popularity than those selecting the average weight drawing. Findings supported the notion that feelings of sympathy and context can impact children’s attitudes. Gender also was related to attitudes and interventions directed toward boys to improve their acceptance may be beneficial. Interventions emphasizing that the child is not at fault for his or her weight status may improve acceptance. Existing literature on interventions to improve acceptance also will be reviewed.

Learning Areas:

Diversity and culture
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Evaluate and discuss the relationship between feelings of sympathy and the context of interactions and perceptions of African American children toward an overweight peer who is a victim of name-calling. Explore and evaluate the attitudes of boys and girls who are African American to determine if interventions are needed due to low acceptance of an overweight peer. Identify strategies for improving perceptions of and coping with teasing of children who are overweight.

Keyword(s): Obesity, Social Justice

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I developed and ran the project and analyzed results and wrote the paper along with Dr. Merianos a co-author. I have authored over 70 publications in this area and have focused expertise in attitudes toward overweight children.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.