The association between global self-esteem, physical self-concept and actual vs ideal body size rating in Chinese primary school children

Patrick W C Lau*, A. Lee, L. Ransdell, C. W. Yu, R. Y. T. Sung

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


OBJECTIVE: To investigate whether the discrepancy between actual and ideal body size rating is related to Chinese children's global self-esteem and global physical self-concept. DESIGN: A cross-sectional study of school children who completed questionnaires related to global self-esteem, global physical self-concept, and actual vs ideal body size. SUBJECTS: A total of 386 Chinese children (44% girls and 56% boys) aged 7-13 y from a primary school in Hong Kong, China. MEASUREMENTS: Global self-esteem and physical self-concept were measured using the physical self-descriptive questionnaire. Actual vs ideal body size discrepancy was established using the silhouette matching task. RESULTS: No significant relationship was found between global self-esteem and actual-ideal body size discrepancy of children. Global physical self-concept had a moderate negative correlation (r = -0.12) with the body size discrepancy score and the discrepancy score explained very limited variance (R2 = 0.015; F(1, 296) = 4.51; P < 0.05) in global physical self-concept. Three body size discrepancy groups (none, positive, and negative) were examined to see if there were any significant differences in global self-esteem, global physical self-concept, and specific dimensions of physical self-concept. A significant overall difference was found between groups for global physical self-concept (F = 3.73, P < 0.05) and the physical self-concept subscales of physical activity (F = 3.25, P < 0.05), body fat (F = 61.26, P < 0.001), and strength (F = 5.26, P < 0.01). Boys scored significantly higher than girls on global physical self-concept-especially in the sport competence, strength, and endurance subscales. CONCLUSION: This study revealed that the actual-ideal body size discrepancy rating of Chinese children was not predictive of global physical self-concept and global self-esteem. These findings are contrary to those reported in Western children, which may mean that culture plays a role in the formation of body attitude.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)314-319
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Obesity
Issue number2
Early online date11 Nov 2003
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2004

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

User-Defined Keywords

  • Body size rating
  • Chinese body culture
  • Global self-esteem
  • Physical activity
  • Physical self-concept


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