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OBJECTIVE: Increased action is needed to combat the growing epidemic of pediatric obesity. It is imperative that researchers investigate psychological and demographic variables that may be associated with pediatric obesity in order to formulate and implement more appropriate and effective interventions. The present study examined the univariate and multivariate relationships between child physical and psychological characteristics in a diverse sample of elementary students. METHODS: Questionnaires were collected from 109 students (63 girls, 46 boys; Mean age= 9.25 years) in grades 3-5 from two elementary schools in the Southeastern United States. Explanatory variables were gender, ethnicity, grade level, and body mass index; outcomes examined were self-reported life satisfaction, physical self-concept, social self-concept, general self-concept, eating self-efficacy, and exercise self-efficacy scores. Univariate and multivariate statistics were used. RESULTS: Correlations showed children with higher physical self-concept, social self-concept, general self-concept, and eating self-efficacy tend to have higher life satisfaction. Regressions revealed that African American students had a higher physical self-concept than both White and Hispanic students and older students had a higher perceived social self-concept than younger students. Multivariate regression results showed that the explanatory influence of gender, ethnicity, and grade level varied across outcome variables. CONCLUSIONS: The strongest explanatory variables of children’s perceived life satisfaction, self-concept and self-efficacy were children’s characteristics (age, gender, and race). Interestingly, children’s psychological functioning was not found to be in direct relationship with their weight classification and children’s body mass index was not significantly related to most outcome variables.
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