Journal of Human Sport and Exercise

Effects of obesity on perception of ability and perception of body image in Portuguese children and adolescents

Miguel Peralta, Adilson Marques, João Martins, Hugo Sarmento, Francisco Carreiro da Costa



Worldwide, the prevalence of child obesity is increasing, which is the cause of great preoccupation for governments and health politics developers. The purpose of this study was to examine differences of ability and body image perceptions related to weight status in children and adolescents and explore them as correlates of BMI. Two thousand five hundred and sixty nine adolescents participated in the study (1303 boys, 1266 girls; M age=13.3±2.4 years). The students were questioned about perceptions of ability and body image, and the body mass index was calculated. Findings revealed that overweight participants felt less athletic, agile, fast and fit and had overall lower self-image perception than normal weight participants; regardless of the age, perceptions of elegance and body mass decreased significantly with increasing BMI. Taking in consideration the dangers of overweight related to the perception of body image, it is important to start to develop effective intervention programs that combine physical activity and psychological support, exploring the benefits of strength training.


Weight status; Physical activity; Intervention programs; Students


Canale, M. P., Manca di Villahermosa, S., Martino, G., Rovella, V., Noce, A., De Lorenzo, A., & Di Daniele, N. (2013). Obesity-Related Metabolic Syndrome: Mechanisms of Sympathetic Overactivity. International Journal of Endocrinology, e865965.

Cole, T. J., Bellizzi, M. C., Flegal, K. M., & Dietz, W. H. (2000). Establishing a standard definition for child overweight and obesity worldwide: international survey. BMJ (Clinical Research Ed.), 320(7244), 1240–1243.

Craigie, A. M., Lake, A. A., Kelly, S. A., Adamson, A. J., & Mathers, J. C. (2011). Tracking of obesity-related behaviours from childhood to adulthood: A systematic review. Maturitas, 70(3), 266–284.

Davis, J. N., Tung, A., Chak, S. S., Ventura, E. E., Byrd-Williams, C. E., Alexander, K. E., … Goran, M. I. (2009). Aerobic and Strength Training Reduces Adiposity in Overweight Latina Adolescents. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 41(7), 1494–1503.

De Vries, A. P. J., Ruggenenti, P., Ruan, X. Z., Praga, M., Cruzado, J. M., Bajema, I. M., … Porrini, E. (2014). Fatty kidney: emerging role of ectopic lipid in obesity-related renal disease. The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, 2(5), 417–426.

Erermis, S., Cetin, N., Tamar, M., Bukusoglu, N., Akdeniz, F., & Goksen, D. (2004). Is obesity a risk factor for psychopathology among adolescents? Pediatrics International: Official Journal of the Japan Pediatric Society, 46(3), 296–301.

Falkner, N. H., Neumark-Sztainer, D., Story, M., Jeffery, R. W., Beuhring, T., & Resnick, M. D. (2001). Social, educational, and psychological correlates of weight status in adolescents. Obesity Research, 9(1), 32–42.

Fourchard, F., & Courtinat-Camps, A. (2013). L'estime de soi globale et physique à l'adolescence. Neuropsychiatrie de L'enfance et de L'adolescence, 66(6), 333–339.

Franklin, J., Denyer, G., Steinbeck, K. S., Caterson, I. D., & Hill, A. J. (2006). Obesity and risk of low self-esteem: a statewide survey of Australian children. Pediatrics, 118(6), 2481–2487.

Gonçalves, S., Silva, D., & Antunes, H. (2012). Psychosocial correlates of overweight and obesity in infancy. Journal of Human Growth and Development, 22(2), 179–186.

Harriss, D., & Atkinson, G. (2011). Update – Ethical Standards in Sport and Exercise Science Research. International Journal of Sports Medicine, 32(11), 819–821.

Kostanski, M., & Gullone, E. (1998). Adolescent Body Image Dissatisfaction: Relationships with Self-esteem, Anxiety, and Depression Controlling for Body Mass. The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines, 39(02), 255–262.

Landsberg, L., Aronne, L. J., Beilin, L. J., Burke, V., Igel, L. I., Lloyd-Jones, D., & Sowers, J. (2013). Obesity-related hypertension: Pathogenesis, cardiovascular risk, and treatment—A position paper of the The Obesity Society and the American Society of Hypertension. Obesity, 21(1), 8–24.

Latzer, Y., & Stein, D. (2013). A review of the psychological and familial perspectives of childhood obesity. Journal of Eating Disorders, 1(1), 1–13.

Lintunen, T. (1990). Perceived physical competence scale for children. In A. Ostrow (Ed.), Directory of Psychological Tests in the Sport and Exercise Sciences. Morgantown: WV: Fitness Information Technology.

Marques, A., Martins, J., Diniz, J., & Carreiro da Costa, F. (2014). Age-groups differences in perception of competence, goal orientation, attitude, and practice of physical activity of girls who attend military schools. Revista Iberoamericana de Psicología Del Ejercicio Y El Deporte, 9(1), 37–50.

Marsh, H. W., Hau, K. T., Sung, R. Y. T., & Yu, C. W. (2007). Childhood obesity, gender, actual-ideal body image discrepancies, and physical self-concept in Hong Kong children: cultural differences in the value of moderation. Developmental Psychology, 43(3), 647–662.

Morano, M., Colella, D., Robazza, C., Bortoli, L., & Capranica, L. (2011). Physical self-perception and motor performance in normal-weight, overweight and obese children. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, 21(3), 465–473.

Nanu, C., & Baban, A. (2011). The Relation Between Actual And Perceived Body Weight In Adolescence. Science, Movement And Health, 11, 278–286.

Pallan, M. J., Hiam, L. C., Duda, J. L., & Adab, P. (2011). Body image, body dissatisfaction and weight status in south asian children: a cross-sectional study. BMC Public Health, 11(1), 21.

Pate, R. R., Ward, D. S., Saunders, R. P., Felton, G., Dishman, R. K., & Dowda, M. (2005). Promotion of Physical Activity Among High-School Girls: A Randomized Controlled Trial. American Journal of Public Health, 95(9), 1582–1587.

Raudsepp, L., Liblik, R., & Hannus, A. (2002). Children's and adolescents' physical self-perceptions as related to moderate to vigorous physical activity and physical fitness. Pediatric Exercise Science, 14(1), 97–106.

Schwimmer, J. B., Burwinkle, T., & Varni, J. (2003). Health-Related Quality of Life of Severely Obese Children and Adolescents. JAMA, 289(14), 1813.

Shin, N. Y., & Shin, M. S. (2008). Body Dissatisfaction, Self-Esteem, and Depression in Obese Korean Children. The Journal of Pediatrics, 152(4), 502–506.

Southall, J., Okely, A., & Steele, J. (2004). Actual and perceived physical competence in overweight and non-overweight children. Faculty of Education - Papers (Archive), 15–24.

Stodden, D. F., Goodway, J. D., Langendorfer, S. J., Roberton, M. A., Rudisill, M. E., Garcia, C., & Garcia, L. E. (2008). A developmental perspective on the role of motor skill competence in physical activity. Quest, 60(2). Retrieved from

Tsiros, M. D., Olds, T., Buckley, J. D., Grimshaw, P., Brennan, L., Walkley, J., … Coates, A. M. (2009). Health-related quality of life in obese children and adolescents. International Journal of Obesity, 33(4), 387–400.

Van den Berg, P. (2012). Body Weight and Body Image in Children and Adolescents. In T. Cash (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Body Image and Human Appearance (pp. 270–274).

Wang, Y. C., McPherson, K., Marsh, T., Gortmaker, S. L., & Brown, M. (2011). Health and economic burden of the projected obesity trends in the USA and the UK. The Lancet, 378(9793), 815–825.


Copyright (c) 2017 Journal of Human Sport and Exercise

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.