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Does Body Satisfaction Help or Harm Overweight Teens? A 10-Year Longitudinal Study of the Relationship Between Body Satisfaction and Body Mass Index

Published:September 15, 2015DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2015.07.008

      Abstract

      Purpose

      This study examines the relationship between body satisfaction of overweight adolescents and 10-year changes in body mass index (BMI).

      Methods

      Participants who were overweight as adolescents (n = 496) were drawn from Project Eating and Activity in Teens and Young Adults (Project EAT), a 10-year longitudinal study.

      Results

      Among overweight girls, a significant difference in 10-year BMI change across baseline body satisfaction quartiles was observed. Overweight girls with the lowest body satisfaction at baseline had a nearly three unit greater increase in BMI at follow-up, compared with overweight girls in the high body satisfaction quartile; this difference has important clinical significance. Among overweight boys, no significant associations between body satisfaction quartile and change in BMI were not observed.

      Conclusion

      Overall, findings indicate that among overweight adolescents, a high level of body satisfaction during adolescence was not harmful, and in fact may be beneficial for girls, in terms of long-term weight management. These findings refute the commonly held notion that overweight young people should be dissatisfied with their bodies to motivate positive change.

      Keywords

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      Linked Article

      • Body Satisfaction Among Girls With Obesity: A Strong Case for #Loveyourbody
        Journal of Adolescent HealthVol. 57Issue 5
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          Sociocultural pressure to be thin comes from a number of sources, including parents, peers, and the media [1,2], but it is the internalization of the thin-ideal and appearance-related social comparison that are specifically implicated in the development of body dissatisfaction [3–9]. Body dissatisfaction is a nearly universal symptom experienced by young women with weight-related disorders, eating disorders and obesity alike. For most eating disorders, body dissatisfaction is a diagnostic feature central to the development of the disorder.
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