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

P. W. C. LAU, A. LEE, L. RANSDELL, Chung Wah Clare YU, R. Y. T. SUNG

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16 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 ( = 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. Copyright © 2004 Nature Publishing Group. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)314-319
JournalInternational Journal of Obesity
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2004


Physical Phenomena
Body Size
Self Concept


Lau, P. W. C., Lee, A., Ransdell, L., Yu, C. W., & Sung, R. Y. T. (2004). The association between global self-esteem, physical self-concept and actual vs ideal body size rating in Chinese primary school children. International Journal of Obesity, 28(2), 314-319. doi: 10.1038/sj.ijo.0802520


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