Body dissatisfaction and body comparison with media images in males and females

Patricia van den Berg, Susan J. Paxton, Helene Keery, Melanie Wall, Jia Guo, Dianne Neumark-Sztainer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

194 Scopus citations


This study examined the role of media body comparison as a mediator of the relationships between psychological factors and sociocultural pressures to be thin and body dissatisfaction in both females and males. Participants were 1,386 females (mean age = 19.37 years) and 1,130 males (mean age = 19.46) from diverse backgrounds who completed a self-report questionnaire. Path analysis was used to test a cross-sectional model in which media body comparison mediated the impact of self-esteem, depressive mood, parent dieting environment, friend dieting, TV exposure, magazine message exposure, weight teasing and body mass index (BMI) on body dissatisfaction. In females, media body comparison partially or fully mediated relationships between self-esteem, depressive mood, friend dieting, magazine message exposure and BMI, and body dissatisfaction. In males, media body comparison was not a significant predictor of body dissatisfaction. This research particularly highlights the need to further examine processes that are involved in the development of body dissatisfaction in males.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)257-268
Number of pages12
JournalBody Image
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2007

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by Grant R40 MC 00319 (D. Neumark-Sztainer, PI) from the Maternal and Child Health Bureau (Title V, Social Security Act), Department of Health and Human Services. The first author was supported by the Adolescent Health Protection Program (School of Nursing, University of Minnesota) grant number T01-DP000112 (PI: Bearinger) from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the funding agencies.


  • Adolescents
  • Body dissatisfaction
  • Males and females
  • Media
  • Media exposure
  • Social comparison
  • Weight teasing


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