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J Adolesc Health. 2007 Dec;41(6):566-70. Epub 2007 Sep 29.

Demographic, behavioral, and physical correlates of body esteem among low-income female adolescents.

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  • 1Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, Texas 77555-0587, USA.



To examine demographic, behavioral, and physical correlates of body esteem among female adolescents of lower socioeconomic background.


Data were collected in a women's health clinic in southeast Texas as part of a larger investigation. A total of 271 female individuals aged 16-21 years completed the Body Esteem Scale (BES), which yields scores for total body esteem, sexual attractiveness, weight concern, and physical condition. Participants answered questions regarding smoking and the presence of acne. Height and weight were measured by a nurse using standard instrumentation and technique. Of the participants, 35% were African-American, 31% white, and 34% Hispanic; and 48% reported an annual household income less than $20,000. The mean body mass index (BMI) was 26.1 (SD = 6.5).


Race/ethnicity was associated with total body esteem, sexual attractiveness, weight esteem, and physical condition (all p < .01). African-American participants demonstrated greater body esteem on all scales relative to white participants. Adolescents reporting annual household incomes less than $20,000 (vs. greater) demonstrated higher overall body esteem, sexual attractiveness, and physical condition (all p < .01). Current smokers (vs. non-smokers) reported lower physical condition (p < .01), lower weight concern (p < .05), and lower overall body esteem (p < .02). BMI was associated with weight concern (p < .001) and total body esteem (p = .05). Adolescents reporting acne (vs. not) reported lower scores for total body esteem, sexual attractiveness, and weight concern (all p < .05).


Body esteem among adolescent females is affected by demographic, physical, and behavioral variables. Results highlight the importance of measuring multiple dimensions of body esteem.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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