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J Am Coll Nutr. 1993 Oct;12(5):505-10.

Body image and eating behavior in adolescents.

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Department of Clinical Investigation, Madigan Army Medical Center, Tacoma, Washington 98431-5000.


Approximately two-thirds of adolescent girls at any age are dissatisfied with their weight, the proportion increasing with actual weight. Slightly more than half of all girls are dissatisfied with the shape of their bodies, an attitude which also is positively correlated with body weight. Girls are most likely to be distressed about excess size of their thighs, hips, waist and buttocks, and inadequate size of their breasts. Those who are dissatisfied with their bodies are more likely to engage in potentially harmful weight control behaviors, such as dieting, fasting, self-induced vomiting, diuretic use, laxative use and diet pill use. Those who diet are more likely to begin in early adolescence, to be white than black, to be of higher socioeconomic status, to engage in other eating-related practices and to have a poor body image and self esteem. Boys who are underweight are most likely to be dissatisfied with their weight and many with normal weight wish to weigh more. Approximately one-third of boys are dissatisfied with their body shape, desiring larger upper arms, chest and shoulders. Dieting and purging are less likely than exercise to be chosen by boys as methods of weight control. Dieting among boys is more likely to be associated with increased body weight and some sports, such as wrestling. Body consciousness and altered body image are widespread among adolescents, and may be associated with potentially harmful eating practices in both sexes, but more so in girls.

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