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Trends in the perceived body size of adolescent males and females in Scotland, 1990–2014: changing associations with mental well-being

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Abstract

Objectives:
This paper explores trends in Scottish adolescents’ body size perceptions and associated mental well-being outcomes.
Methods:
Data were collected on Scottish 11, 13 and 15-year olds by the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children study between 1990 and 2014 (n=42,312). Logistic regression was used to examine changes in the prevalence of over- and underweight perceptions. Ordinal and linear regression was used to examine changes in the association between body perception and mental well-being.
Results:
Little change was observed in over- or under-weight perceptions between 1990 and 2014. However, relative to those perceiving their body as ‘about right’, those perceiving themselves as overweight reported decreasing confidence (all groups), decreasing happiness (11- and 13-year old girls) and increasing psychological symptoms (all girls and 15 year-old boys). Perceived underweight is associated with poor well-being, especially in males, but we present little evidence that this is a recent phenomenon.
Conclusions:
We present evidence suggesting that the influence of body image on adolescent mental health is increasing over time. This may play a role in the recently observed worsening of mental well-being in Scottish adolescents.
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Details

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Public Health
VolumeFirst Online
Early online date1 Jul 2017
DOIs
StateE-pub ahead of print - 1 Jul 2017

    Research areas

  • Body image, Body size perception, Overweight, Underweight, Adolescents, Mental well-being

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