Clinical research

About Clinical Research

At the interface of translation we collaborate with health practitioners to implement ways to improve the nutritional care and status of hospitalised patients. Our strategic objective is to reduce malnutrition in those with chronic or acute disease.

The Children's Body Image Scale

Childhood obesity is known to impact on across both physical and psychosocial domains of health1. Overweight children experience higher levels of body dissatisfaction compared with their non-overweight counterparts2, indicating that body size impacts negatively on children's experience of their bodies. Negative body image is implicated in development of extreme dieting behaviours which can be the precursor of eating disorders3.

In 2002 as a paediatric dietitian and PhD student, Professor Helen Truby was co-creator of ‘The Children's Body Image Scale', a pictorial scale that has been used widely to measure body perception and satisfaction in children relative to their actual BMI. Tests using the scale show that young girls tend to be better assessors of reality than young boys, but they both prefer thinner bodies, especially girls (boys want muscles), and no one wants to be overweight. The desire for thinness is more cultural than inbuilt, Helen says, but it means parents and health professionals need to tread carefully when trying to help overweight children.

Find out more about the Children's Body Image Scale.


1.  Ebbeling CB, Pawlak DB, Ludwig DS. Lancet 2002; 360(9331):473-482.
2.  Golley RK. [PhD thesis]. Adelaide: Flinders University; 2005.
3.  Smolak L. Body Image 2004; 1: 15-28.