A Reciprocal Effects Model of Children’s Body Fat Self-Concept: Relations With Physical Self-Concept and Physical Activity

in Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
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This study investigated a reciprocal effects model (REM) of children’s body fat self-concept and physical self-concept, and objectively measured school physical activity at different intensities. Grade four students (N = 376; M age = 9.07, SD = .61; 55% boys) from the midwest region of the United States completed measures of physical self-concept and body fat self-concept, and wore accelerometers for three consecutive school days at the beginning and end of one school year. Findings from structural equation modeling analyses did not support reciprocal effects. However, children’s body fat self-concept predicted future physical self-concept and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA). Multigroup analyses explored the moderating role of weight status, sex, ethnicity, and sex*ethnicity within the REM. Findings supported invariance, suggesting that the observed relations were generalizable for these children across demographic groups. Links between body fat self-concept and future physical self-concept and MVPA highlight self-enhancing effects that can promote children’s health and well-being.

Alex C. Garn is with the School of Kinesiology, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA. Alexandre J.S. Morin is with the Institute for Positive Psychology and Education, Australian Catholic University, Strathfield, NSW, Australia. Jeffrey Martin, Erin Centeio, Bo Shen, Noel Kulik, and Nate McCaughtry are with the Department of Kinesiology, Health, and Sport Studies, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan. Cheryl Sommers is with the College of Education, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan. Address author correspondence to Alex Garn at agarn@lsu.edu.