Self-perception of physical competences in preadolescent overweight Chinese children

R. Y. T. SUNG, Chung Wah Clare YU, R. C. H. SO, P. K. W. LAM, K. T. HAU

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Objective: To compare self-perceptions of physical competences in overweight and in normal weight preadolescent Chinese children. 

Design: Cross-sectional study. 

Setting: Three primary schools and a university hospital in Hong Kong. 

Subjects: A total of 634 children, comprising 558 (462 normal weight, 96 overweight) aged 8-12y randomly sampled from three primary schools, and 76 similar age overweight children recruited from the community for a diet and exercise intervention programme. 

Measurements: Height, weight and percentage body fat were measured. Self-perceptions of physical competences were determined by Physical Self-Descriptive Questionnaire (PSDQ). Corresponding actual physical competences were measured by physical fitness tests. 

Results: Overweight children perceived themselves to have significantly more body fat than normal weight children, with poorer appearance, sports competence, endurance, coordination, flexibility, overall physical self-concept and self-esteem, but to be no less healthy, no less physically active and no less strong. Overweight children performed less well than normal weight children in measures of endurance, coordination and flexibility but better in strength. Poor self-perception of physical competences appeared only partly related to deficiencies in actual physical competences. 

Conclusion: Overweight children have poorer self-perception of their physical competences but do not perceive themselves to be less strong, healthy or physically active than normal weight children. Exercise programmes for overweight children could be more effective if designed with the knowledge of these self-perceptions. Copyright © 2005 Nature Publishing Group. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-106
JournalEuropean Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2005


Self Concept
Mental Competency
Weights and Measures
Adipose Tissue
Physical Phenomena
Physical Fitness
Hong Kong
Cross-Sectional Studies


Sung, R. Y. T., Yu, C. W., So, R. C. H., Lam, P. K. W., & Hau, K. T. (2005). Self-perception of physical competences in preadolescent overweight Chinese children. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 59(1), 101-106. doi: 10.1038/sj.ejcn.1602044


  • Obesity
  • Physical competences
  • Physical self-concept
  • Preadolescence