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Paul A. Klaczynski

Paul A. Klaczynski

University of Northern Colorado, USA

Title: Adolescents Obesity Stereotypes and Eating Disorders: Moderating Effect of Culture and Age


Paul A. Klaczynski obtained his developmental psychology PhD in 1989 from West Virginia University and completed his postdoctoral studies at the University of Utah. His research focuses on developments in judgment heuristics, obesity stereotypes, and stigmatization. He is a former director of NSF's developmental and Learning Sciences Program, has published more than 50 papers in reputed journals, and has served as a member of several distinguished editorial boards.


In Western cultures, obesity stereotypes not only increases in strength from late childhood through adolescence but are also related positively to eating disorder-related beliefs and cognitions. To examine whether these associations differed by both age and culture, 213 Chinese and American 11-16 year-old girls completed measures of obesity stereotypes and risky eating behaviors and beliefs (e.g., actual-ideal body image discrepancies, appearance beliefs, attitudes toward eating). Negative obesity stereotypes increased with age in both countries, although this age-related increase was steeper for American adolescents. However, whereas predictors of eating disordered thinking (EATPROB) increased with age in the American sample, they did not in the Chinese sample. A moderated moderation analysis, with obesity stereotypes as the independent variable, and age and country as potential moderators indicated a significant Age x Country x Obesity stereotype interaction, suggesting that the obesity stereotype-EATPROB relationship was moderated by age and country. Additional analyses indicated that obesity stereotypes directly "affected" EATPROB for older, but not younger American girls. By contrast, the obesity stereotypes of younger, but not older, Chinese girls directly "affected" EATPROB. These findings suggest eating-disordered beliefs are a codetermined by developments in obesity stereotypes and cultural differences in the origins of both obesity stereotypes and eating disorders.