Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Departmental Honors


Nutrition, Dietetics, and Food Sciences


Body image is the mental image or conception that one has of one's body. Its development is effected by an individual's life experiences beginning at birth. Statistics show that close to half of elementary-aged children are already dissatisfied with their bodies and have begun to develop negative body images. Review of the current literature suggests that family, peers, cultural values and the media, and changes in physical appearance related to adiposity rebound and puberty are the major causes of this unfortunate situation. Research is also showing that children are participating in unhealthy diet and exercise practices as a result of their negative body images. This leads to many nutritional concerns, including impaired growth due to calorie, protein, vitamin, and mineral deficiencies, as well as an increased risk for eating disorders. The best way to eliminate this problem is prevention. Programs have been developed for use in elementary schools that promote self-esteem and positive body image. Family dietary counseling, frequent family mealtimes, and parental education on normal child development pattern are ways to make the family a support system instead of a source of the problem. Appropriate physical activity and media literacy have also been associated with improvements in body image among children.



Faculty Mentor

Tammy Vitale

Departmental Honors Advisor

Noreen Schvaneveldt