Fifteen-Year Prevalence, Trajectories, and Predictors of Body Dissatisfaction From Adolescence to Middle Adulthood

Shirley B. Wang, Ann F. Haynos, Melanie M. Wall, Chen Chen, Marla E. Eisenberg, Dianne Neumark-Sztainer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

83 Scopus citations


Body dissatisfaction is common in adolescence and associated with negative outcomes (e.g., eating disorders). We identified common individual trajectories of body dissatisfaction from midadolescence to adulthood and predictors of divergent patterns. Participants were 1,455 individuals from four waves of Project EAT (Eating and Activity in Teens and Young Adults), a population-based, 15-year longitudinal study. Aggregate body dissatisfaction increased over 15 years, which was largely attributable to increases in weight. Growth mixture modeling identified four common patterns of body dissatisfaction, revealing nearly 95% of individuals experienced relatively stable body dissatisfaction from adolescence through adulthood. Baseline depression, self-esteem, parental communication/caring, peer dieting, and weight-based teasing predicted differing trajectories. Body dissatisfaction appears largely stable from midadolescence onward. There may be a critical period for body image development during childhood/early adolescence. Clinicians should intervene with clients experiencing body dissatisfaction before it becomes chronic and target depression, self-esteem, parent/child connectedness, and responses to teasing and peer dieting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1403-1415
Number of pages13
JournalClinical Psychological Science
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2019.


  • adolescence
  • body dissatisfaction
  • longitudinal
  • open materials
  • population-based
  • trajectories


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