The link between body dissatisfaction and self-esteem in adolescents: Similarities across gender, age, weight status, race/ethnicity, and socioeconomic status

Patricia A. Van Den Berg, Jonathan Mond, Marla Eisenberg, Diann Ackard, Dianne Neumark-Sztainer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

150 Scopus citations

Abstract

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 socioeconomic status (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 were resurveyed through mails 5 years later (Time, 2; N = 2,516). Results: The relationship between body dissatisfaction and self-esteem was strong and significant in both boys and girls (all p values < .0001), and did not differ significantly between genders (p = .16), or between the middle school and high school cohorts in either boys (p = .79) or girls (p = .80). Among girls, the relationship between body dissatisfaction and self-esteem was strong, but did vary across weight status, race/ethnicity, and SES (all p values = .0001-.03). The relationship was nonsignificant in underweight girls (p = .36), and weaker but still significant among black, Asian, and low SES group girls (all p values < .0001) in comparison to white and high SES group girls. Among boys, the association did not differ significantly across demographic groups (all p values = .18-.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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)290-296
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Volume47
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2010

Keywords

  • Adolescent
  • Body dissatisfaction
  • Body image
  • Eating disorders
  • Ethnicity
  • Race
  • Self-esteem
  • Socioeconomic status

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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