Weight Perceptions, Misperceptions, and Dating Violence Victimization Among U.S. Adolescents

Tilda Farhat*, Denise Haynie, Faith Summersett-Ringgold, Ashley Brooks-Russell, Ronald J. Iannotti

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Dating violence is a major public health issue among youth. Overweight/obese adolescents experience peer victimization and discrimination and may be at increased risk of dating violence victimization. Furthermore, given the stigma associated with overweight/obesity, perceptions and misperceptions of overweight may be more important than actual weight status for dating violence victimization. This study examines the association of three weight indices (weight status, perceived weight, and weight perception accuracy) with psychological and physical dating violence victimization. The 2010 baseline survey of the 7-year NEXT Generation Health Study used a three-stage stratified clustered sampling design to select a nationally representative sample of U.S. 10th-grade students (n = 1,983). Participants who have had a boyfriend/girlfriend reported dating violence victimization and perceived weight. Weight status was computed from measured height/weight. Weight perception accuracy (accurate/underestimate/overestimate) was calculated by comparing weight status and perceived weight. Gender-stratified regressions examined the association of weight indices and dating violence victimization. Racial/ethnic differences were also examined. The association of weight indices with dating violence victimization significantly differed by gender. Overall, among boys, no associations were observed. Among girls, weight status was not associated with dating violence victimization, nor with number of dating violence victimization acts; however, perceived weight and weight perception accuracy were significantly associated with dating violence victimization, type of victimization, and number of victimization acts. Post hoc analyses revealed significant racial/ethnic differences. White girls who perceive themselves (accurately or not) to be overweight, and Hispanic girls who are overweight, may be at increased risk of dating violence victimization. These findings suggest a targeted approach to dating violence victimization prevention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1511-1532
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Interpersonal Violence
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 30 2015


  • adolescents
  • dating violence
  • gender
  • obesity
  • weight perceptions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Applied Psychology


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