Body satisfaction and body weight in under- and healthy-weight adolescents: mediating effects of restrictive dieting, healthy and unhealthy food intake Academic Article uri icon


  • PURPOSE:Theoretical models, such as the transdiagnostic model of eating disorders highlight the role of cognitive factors (e.g., the way people perceive their bodies) and their associations with maladaptive weight management behaviors resulting in underweight. This paper aims at testing the indirect association of adolescent's body satisfaction and body mass index (BMI) through restrictive dieting, healthy eating or unhealthy eating as well as moderating role of adolescent's weight status. METHODS:The study was conducted in 16 public middle and high schools in Central and Eastern Poland. A sample of 1042 under- and healthy-weight white adolescents aged 13-20 (BMI: 12.63-24.89) completed two self-reported questionnaires (fruit, vegetable, and energy-dense food intake) with a 11-month interval. Weight and height were measured objectively. Multiple mediation analysis and moderated multiple mediation analysis were conducted to test the study hypotheses. RESULTS:Adolescents less satisfied with their bodies were more likely to diet restrictively and at the same time ate more unhealthy energy-dense food rather than healthy food, which in turn predicted lower BMI. No moderating effects of weight status were found. CONCLUSIONS:Low body satisfaction is a risk for restrictive diet and unhealthy food intake. Prevention programs may target under- and healthy-weight adolescents who are highly dissatisfied with their bodies, have a high intake of energy-dense food and apply a restrictive diet at the same time. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE:Level III: longitudinal cohort study.


publication date

  • February 2020