Parent, peer, and media influences on body image and strategies to both increase and decrease body size among adolescent boys and girls

Adolescence. Summer 2001;36(142):225-40.


This study investigated the nature of body image and body change strategies, as well as the sociocultural influences on these variables, among a group of 1,266 adolescents (622 males, 644 females). In particular, it investigated weight gain and increased muscle, as well as weight loss. It was found that females were less satisfied with their bodies and were more likely to adopt strategies to lose weight, whereas males were more likely to adopt strategies to increase weight and muscle tone. Respondents with higher body mass index (BMI) evidenced greater body dissatisfaction and more weight loss strategies, but there were no differences between BMI groups in weight gain or strategies to increase muscles. Weight gain and strategies to increase muscles were more likely to be undertaken by older adolescents, but there were no grade level differences in weight loss. Media influences to alter weight, as well as feedback from mother, father, and both male and female peers, were greater for females. There were few grade level or BMI differences in regard to any of the sociocultural influences. The importance of these findings in terms of providing a better understanding of factors which may lead to a disturbed body image and body change disorders, particularly among adolescent boys, is discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Body Constitution*
  • Body Image*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Weight
  • Feedback
  • Female
  • Gender Identity*
  • Humans
  • Internal-External Control
  • Male
  • Mass Media*
  • Parent-Child Relations*
  • Peer Group*
  • Social Values
  • Victoria