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

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.

authors

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

publication date

  • August 2006