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Int J Eat Disord. 2001 May;29(4):373-9.

Body image in boys: a review of the literature.

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Biological Psychiatry Laboratory, McLean Hospital/Harvard Medical School, Belmont, Massachusetts, USA.



Both scientific research and popular attention have begun to focus on the neglected issue of body image in boys. We reviewed the findings of this emerging literature.


Using computer and manual search techniques, we located 17 studies that assessed body image attitudes in boys under age 18.


We located 17 studies, most performed within the last 10 years. Eight studies used exclusively questionnaires or interviews; the rest also used figure drawings from which the subjects could choose specific images in answer to questions. Although boys generally displayed less overall body concern than girls, many boys of all ages reported dissatisfaction with their bodies, often associated with reduced self-esteem. Whereas girls typically wanted to be thinner, boys frequently wanted to be bigger. However, most studies failed to distinguish between "bigness" due to increased muscle and that due to fat.


Body image dissatisfaction in boys is common and often associated with distress. To better assess this phenomenon, future studies should take care to separate the indices of muscle and fat.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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