Adolescent girls with high body satisfaction: who are they and what can they teach us?

J Adolesc Health. 2005 Nov;37(5):391-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2004.08.008.


Purpose: The purpose of this study was 2-fold: (1) to determine the prevalence of high body satisfaction in a multi-ethnic, urban population of adolescent females, and (2) to examine the demographic, socioenvironmental, personal, and behavioral factors associated with high body satisfaction among adolescent girls.

Methods: The study population included 2,357 female middle and high school students who completed surveys in 1998-1999. High body satisfaction and its association with a range of socioenvironmental, personal, and behavioral factors were assessed. Associations were examined through comparisons of means (unadjusted and adjusted for grade level, race, socioeconomic status, and body mass index [BMI]) for continuous variables, and percentages and odds ratios for dichotomized variables.

Results: Over a quarter (26.7%) of adolescent girls reported high body satisfaction. High body satisfaction was most common among African-American (40.1%) and underweight girls (39.0%). In adjusted analyses, girls with high body satisfaction were more likely to report parental and peer attitudes that encouraged healthy eating and exercising to be fit (p < .001) versus dieting, and less likely to report personal weight-related concerns and behaviors (p < .001).

Conclusions: The immediate subculture in which adolescent girls exist may play an important role in fostering high body satisfaction. Parents and health care providers often struggle with how to address the topic of weight management in teens without causing further injury to body image. Findings from the present study suggest the importance of providing a social environment that focuses on health and fitness, rather than on weight control, to increase adolescent girls' likelihood of being satisfied with their bodies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior*
  • Body Image*
  • Body Weight
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diet
  • Ethnicity
  • Exercise
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Odds Ratio
  • Parent-Child Relations
  • Peer Group