Does Body Satisfaction Matter? Five-year Longitudinal Associations between Body Satisfaction and Health Behaviors in Adolescent Females and Males

Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, Susan J. Paxton, Peter J. Hannan, Jess Haines, Mary Story

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

572 Scopus citations

Abstract

Purpose: This study addresses the question, "Does body satisfaction matter?" by examining longitudinal associations between body satisfaction and weight-related health-promoting and health-compromising behaviors five years later among adolescents. Methods: Project EAT-II followed an ethnically and socioeconomically diverse sample of 2516 adolescents from 1999 (Time 1) to 2004 (Time 2). Associations between body satisfaction at Time 1 and health behaviors at Time 2 were examined, adjusting for sociodemographic characteristics and Time 1 health behaviors, with and without adjustment for body mass index (BMI). Results: In females, lower body satisfaction predicted higher levels of dieting, unhealthy and very unhealthy weight control behaviors and binge eating, and lower levels of physical activity and fruit and vegetable intake. After adjusting for BMI, associations between body satisfaction and dieting, very unhealthy weight control behaviors, and physical activity remained statistically significant. In males, lower body satisfaction predicted higher levels of dieting, healthy, unhealthy, and very unhealthy weight control behaviors, binge eating, and smoking, and lower levels of physical activity. After adjusting for BMI, associations between body satisfaction and dieting, unhealthy weight control behavior, and binge eating remained statistically significant. Conclusions: The study findings indicate that, in general, lower body satisfaction does not serve as a motivator for engaging in healthy weight management behaviors, but rather predicts the use of behaviors that may place adolescents at risk for weight gain and poorer overall health. Interventions with adolescents should strive to enhance body satisfaction and avoid messages likely to lead to decreases in body satisfaction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)244-251
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Volume39
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2006

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by Grant R40 MC 00319 from the Maternal and Child Health Bureau (Title V, Social Security Act), Health Resources and Services Administration, Department of Health and Human Services.

Copyright:
Copyright 2008 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

Keywords

  • Adolescence
  • Body image
  • Body satisfaction
  • Dietary intake
  • Dieting
  • Eating disorders
  • Obesity
  • Physical activity
  • Smoking

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