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:



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


      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.


      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.


      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.


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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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