Perceptions of Youth Obesity Among Physical Educators Page: 407
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Social Psychology of Education (2005) 8:407-423 C Springer 2005
DOI: 10.1007/sl 1218-005-0662-9
Perceptions of youth obesity among
CHRISTY GREENLEAF* and KAREN WEILLER
KHPR Department, University of North Texas, PO Box 310769, Denton,
TX 76203-0769, USA
Abstract. The purposes of this study were to examine (a) antifat attitudes among physical
education teachers, (b) performance and ability expectations for normal and overweight
youth, and (c) perceptions of the problem of youth obesity and the role of schools and
physical education. Participants, 105 physical educators, completed a demographic and
background questionnaire, the Antifat Attitudes Scale (AFAS; Morrison & O'Connor),
an expectations questionnaire, and Perceptions of Youth Obesity and Physical Education
Questionnaire (Price, Desmond, & Ruppert). Participants endorsed moderate antifat atti-
tudes and strong personal weight control beliefs. Participants reported higher expectations
for youth they considered normal weight, versus overweight, across a variety of perfor-
mance and ability areas. Participants overwhelmingly agreed that youth obesity is a con-
cern and that schools are not doing enough to help overweight youth.
The epidemic of overweight and obese youth and the decline in physi-
cal activity levels are growing concerns for American health profession-
als. Nationwide, an estimated 13% of 6-11 year olds and 14% of 12-19
year olds are overweight (US Department of Health and Human Services
[USDHHS], 2001). In addition, according to the U.S. Surgeon General's
report (USDHHS, 1996), about half of 12-21 year olds do not engage in
regular vigorous physical activity. Even as the U.S. population is becom-
ing increasingly overweight and sedentary, antifat attitudes and obesity
bias are prevalent (Puhl & Brownell, 2001, 2003). These deeply engrained
beliefs and attitudes influence how overweight individuals are perceived and
treated by society. Even individuals educated and trained in the health pro-
fessions report discriminatory attitudes and behaviors toward overweight
individuals (Klein, Najman, Kohrman, & Munro, 1982; Maroney & Golub,
1992; Schwartz, Chambliss, Brownell, Blair, & Billington, 2003).
Overweight individuals are often characterized as being lazy and over-
indulgent (Teachman & Brownell, 2001) and youth are not exempt from
the negative social stigma of being considered fat (Hill & Silver, 1995;
*Author for correspondence: Tel.: +1-940-565-3415; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Greenleaf, Christy & Abels, Karen Weiller. Perceptions of Youth Obesity Among Physical Educators, article, 2005; [New York, New York]. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc31087/m1/1/: accessed May 27, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT College of Education.