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BMC Public Health. 2009 Aug 27;9:313. doi: 10.1186/1471-2458-9-313.

Body satisfaction and body weight: gender differences and sociodemographic determinants.

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Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine, Children's Hospital, Boston, USA.



Given the documented links between body satisfaction, weight-related behaviors, and weight change in adolescents, we sought to examine the prevalence of poor body satisfaction in prepubescent girls and boys and its associations with body weight, socioeconomic factors, and rural residence.


We obtained data from 4254 girls and boys participating in a population-based survey of grade five students in the province of Nova Scotia, Canada. We examined gender specific associations between the prevalence of poor body satisfaction and body mass index (BMI) with generalized additive models and applied multilevel logistic regression methods to estimate associations of body satisfaction with BMI, rural residence, parental education and income, and neighborhood household income.


We observed a linear increase in poor body satisfaction with increasing BMI in girls. Among boys, however, we found a U-shape association where boys with low BMI and those with high BMI reported higher levels of poor body satisfaction. We also found that poor body satisfaction was more prevalent among girls whose parents had lower educational attainment and among those who reside in rural areas.


Insight into the unique relationships between body satisfaction and BMI experienced by prepubescent children, males, and populations diverse in parental education and geographic location may help to inform public health initiatives designed to improve weight-related behaviors and reduce overweight in children.

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