Associations Between Weight Talk and Biopsychosocial Outcomes in Children from Racially/Ethnically Diverse Households

Amanda C. Trofholz, Allan Tate, Susan Telke, Katie A. Loth, Gretchen J. Buchanan, Jerica M. Berge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Weight talk in the home—parents talking to their children about their weight, shape or size—has been associated with many negative health outcomes in children and adolescents, although the majority of research has been with adolescents. This study explored associations between weight talk in the home and a broad range of child biopsychosocial outcomes (e.g., weight status, diet quality, psychological well-being, peer problems), in addition to child sex and race/ethnicity. Parents of 5–7 year old children from six racial/ethnic groups (White, African American, Hmong, Latino, Native American, Somali) (n = 150) completed an online survey and completed 24-hour dietary recalls on the child. Additionally, anthropometric measurements were taken on the 5–7 year old child and parent. Over one-third of parents reported engaging in weight talk with their child. Overall, weight talk was associated with child weight status, but not with child diet quality. The presence of weight talk differed by race/ethnicity and child weight status. Most psychological (e.g., emotional problems) and social (e.g., peer problems) outcomes differed significantly by race/ethnicity with the following pattern: (1) no significant associations between weight talk and biopsychosocial outcomes were found for Hmong and Latino children; (2) a negative association (e.g., less healthy functioning) was found for African American and Somali children; (3) a positive association (e.g., healthier functioning) was found for Native American children. Future research should investigate why psychological and social outcomes differ by race/ethnicity in children experiencing weight talk. This study confirms the need to develop best practices for helping parents concerned about their child’s weight to talk to children in a healthful way.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31-43
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Child and Family Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Research is supported by grant number R01HL126171 from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (PI: Berge). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development or the National Institutes of Health.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.


  • Biopsychosocial
  • Child behavior
  • Immigrant/refugee families
  • Racially/ethnically diverse children, Native American children
  • Weight talk

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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