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.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This study was supported by National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Grant R01-HL116892 (to D. Neumark-Sztainer). S. B. Wang is supported by National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Grant DGE-1745303. A. F. Haynos received support from National Institute of Mental Health Grants T32-MH082761 and K23-MH112867. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the National Institutes of Health, the National Institute of Mental Health, or the National Science Foundation.
© The Author(s) 2019.
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