ATTITUDES TOWARDS FOOD AND PERSONALITY DEVELOPMENT OF OBESE
Slávka Fraňková1, Eva Malichová2
Dept. of Psychology; Faculty of Philosophy; Charles University; Prague
Children's Convalescent House; Špindlerův Mlýn- Svatý Petr, Czech Republic
Objective: The increased risk of later obesity in overweight children has been generally accepted.
There are many factors contributing to the development of body weight and personality of a child.
Food habits are one of them. Body weight of the child, its self-image and attitudes toward life are
formed by environmental demands and by the norms of a society. We were interested in the
development of the personality and by the attitude of a child towards food, concept of body image,
perception of food qualities, and social interactions.
Methods: Samples of overweight children aged 3 to 6 years of age, resp. 10 to 15 years were
compared with those with normal weight for age. In preschool children we tested food preferences,
interests, family habits, and the development of body image. In school children, we followed the
self-evaluation by means Rohner's PAQ test, attitudes to food using our questionnaires and
Results: Differences between the lean and overweight children appeared already in the preschool
period. Children under the 4th year of age understood difference in body shapes of child and adult
figures and to express their attitudes to body size of peers and parents. The lean and overweight
children differed in food preferences, eating style, interests. The overweight children displayed
greater dependence on adults. The lean and heavy school children showed differences in their
attitudes to food and its qualities. In the PAQ test the overweight boys reached higher score in the
dependence subscale, the overweight girls had lower evaluation of the owns abilities and namely
higher score in pessimism.
Conclusion: Personality of the overweight children deserves more attention from the early
childhood in order to prevent obesity and also behavioral problems associated with it.