Purpose: The present study examined whether the cross-sectional association between body dissatisfaction and low self-esteem varies across gender, age, body weight status, race/ethnicity, and socioeconomic status (SES). We also examined the association longitudinally. Methods: A school-based survey of eating, weight, and related attitudes was conducted with a diverse sample of adolescents aged 11-18 years (N = 4,746). Height and weight were measured in the schools at Time 1. Participants were resurveyed through mails 5 years later (Time, 2; N = 2,516). Results: The relationship between body dissatisfaction and self-esteem was strong and significant in both boys and girls (all p values < .0001), and did not differ significantly between genders (p = .16), or between the middle school and high school cohorts in either boys (p = .79) or girls (p = .80). Among girls, the relationship between body dissatisfaction and self-esteem was strong, but did vary across weight status, race/ethnicity, and SES (all p values = .0001-.03). The relationship was nonsignificant in underweight girls (p = .36), and weaker but still significant among black, Asian, and low SES group girls (all p values < .0001) in comparison to white and high SES group girls. Among boys, the association did not differ significantly across demographic groups (all p values = .18-.79). In longitudinal analyses, the strength of the association did not change significantly as adolescents grew older. Conclusions: Findings indicate that body dissatisfaction and self-esteem are strongly related among nearly all groups of adolescents. This suggests the importance of addressing body image concerns with adolescents of all backgrounds and ages.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This study was supported by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau (Title V, Social Security Act), Health Resources and Services Administration, Department of Health and Human Services ( R40 MC 00319 , PI: Neumark-Sztainer). The first author was supported by the UTMB Women's Health Research Scholars Program ( BIRCWH K12HD052023 , PI: Berenson) from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the Office of Research on Women's Health, and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and by the Adolescent Health Protection Program (School of Nursing, University of Minnesota) ( T01-DP000112 , PI: Bearinger) from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention . The contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the granting agencies.
- Body dissatisfaction
- Body image
- Eating disorders
- Socioeconomic status