Does Body Satisfaction Help or Harm Overweight Teens? A 10-Year Longitudinal Study of the Relationship Between Body Satisfaction and Body Mass Index

Katie A. Loth, Allison W. Watts, Patricia Van Den Berg, Dianne Neumark-Sztainer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

18 Scopus citations


Purpose This study examines the relationship between body satisfaction of overweight adolescents and 10-year changes in body mass index (BMI). Methods Participants who were overweight as adolescents (n = 496) were drawn from Project Eating and Activity in Teens and Young Adults (Project EAT), a 10-year longitudinal study. Results Among overweight girls, a significant difference in 10-year BMI change across baseline body satisfaction quartiles was observed. Overweight girls with the lowest body satisfaction at baseline had a nearly three unit greater increase in BMI at follow-up, compared with overweight girls in the high body satisfaction quartile; this difference has important clinical significance. Among overweight boys, no significant associations between body satisfaction quartile and change in BMI were not observed. Conclusion Overall, findings indicate that among overweight adolescents, a high level of body satisfaction during adolescence was not harmful, and in fact may be beneficial for girls, in terms of long-term weight management. These findings refute the commonly held notion that overweight young people should be dissatisfied with their bodies to motivate positive change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)559-561
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2015



  • BMI
  • Body acceptance
  • Body satisfaction
  • Longitudinal
  • Obesity
  • Overweight
  • Weight gain
  • Weight management

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