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The link between body dissatisfaction and self-esteem in adolescents: Similarities across gender, age, weight status, race/ethnicity, and socioeconomic status
Purpose: The present study examined whether the cross-sectional association between body dissatisfaction and low self-esteem varies across gender, age, body weight status, race/ethnicity, and SES. We also examined the association longitudinally.
Methods: A school-based survey of eating, weight, and related attitudes was conducted with a diverse sample of adolescents aged 11–18 years (N = 4,746). Height and weight were measured in the schools at Time 1. Participants was resurveyed by mail five years later (Time 2, N = 2,516).
Results: The body dissatisfaction/self-esteem association was strong and significant in both boys and girls (p’s < 0.0001), and did not differ significantly between genders (p = 0.16), nor between the middle school and high school cohorts in either boys (p = 0.79) or girls (p = 0.80). Among girls, the body dissatisfaction/self-esteem relationship was strong, but did vary across weight status, race/ ethnicity, and SES (p’s 0.0001–0.03). The relationship was non-significant in underweight girls (p = 0.36), and weaker but still significant among black, Asian, and low SES girls (all p’s < 0.0001) in comparison to white and high SES group girls. Among boys, the association did not differ significantly across demographic groups (p’s 0.18–0.79). In longitudinal analyses, the strength of the association did not change significantly as adolescents grew older.
Conclusions: Findings indicate that body dissatisfaction and self-esteem are strongly related among nearly all groups of adolescents. This suggests the importance of addressing body image concerns with adolescents of all backgrounds and ages.
Publication titleJournal of Adolescent Health
Department/SchoolSchool of Health Sciences
PublisherElsevier Science Inc
Place of publicationUnited States
Rights statementCopyright 2010 Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine