Sex differences in quality of life impairment associated with body dissatisfaction in adolescents

Scott Griffiths*, Stuart B. Murray, Caroline Bentley, Kassandra Gratwick-Sarll, Carmel Harrison, Jonathan M. Mond

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    28 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Purpose Body dissatisfaction is strongly associated with quality of life impairment among both male and female adults, and the strength of this relationship is comparable between the sexes. Whether this is the case among adolescents, however, is unclear. Methods Adolescent girls (n = 1,135) and boys (n = 531) aged 12–18 years were recruited from secondary schools located in the Australian Capital Territory, Australia. Students completed a survey that included measures of body dissatisfaction, eating disorder symptoms, and psychosocial health– and physical health–related quality of life. Results Girls reported higher levels of dissatisfaction than boys for each of the 12 body features assessed. The strength of the adverse associations between body dissatisfaction and quality of life impairment did not, however, differ by sex, and this was the case for both physical health–related and psychosocial quality of life domains. For both girls and boys, associations between body dissatisfaction and both quality of life impairment persisted after controlling for eating disorder symptoms, body mass index, and other covariates. Conclusions While levels of body dissatisfaction remain higher in girls than in boys, the adverse impact of body dissatisfaction on adolescents' quality of life does not appear to differ by sex. This impact entails impairment in both physical health and psychosocial quality of life domains and does not appear to be accounted for by an association between body dissatisfaction and eating disorder pathology. The findings support the need to conceive of body dissatisfaction as a public health concern in its own right.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)77-82
    Number of pages6
    JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
    Volume61
    Issue number1
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2017

    Keywords

    • body dissatisfaction
    • body image
    • quality of life
    • adolescents
    • boys
    • girls
    • gender differences
    • sex differences

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