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J Psychosom Res. 2002 Mar;52(3):145-53.

The role of puberty, media and popularity with peers on strategies to increase weight, decrease weight and increase muscle tone among adolescent boys and girls.

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School of Psychology, Deakin University, 221 Burwood Highway, Burwood, Victoria 3125, Australia.



The present study was concerned with the impact of pubertal development, relationships with peers and perceived pressure from the media on body dissatisfaction and body change behaviors among adolescent boys and girls. In particular, the study investigated the underresearched area of strategies to increase weight and muscle. The exploration of body change strategies among adolescent boys has been a neglected area of research.


Respondents were 1185 adolescents (527 males, 598 females) who were enrolled in Grades 7 and 9. Participants completed measures of pubertal development, media and peer influence, body dissatisfaction and strategies to lose weight, increase weight and to increase muscle.


The findings demonstrated that girls were more likely than boys to adopt strategies to lose weight, whereas boys were more likely to adopt strategies to increase muscle tone (but not weight). For boys in both Years 7 and 9, the main predictors of body change strategies were puberty and, to a lesser extent, perceived popularity with peers. The major influences for Years 7 and 9 girls were puberty and the media, but these mainly focused on weight loss. For Year 9 girls, perceived popularity with opposite-sex peers also predicted body dissatisfaction and strategies to increase muscle tone.


The implications of these findings for understanding factors related to a range of body change strategies for adolescent boys and girls are discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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