Weight concerns, body image, depression and anxiety in Swedish adolescents

Eat Behav. 2006 May;7(2):161-75. doi: 10.1016/j.eatbeh.2005.08.005. Epub 2005 Aug 22.


Objectives: To assess weight problems and correlates in respect of body image, depression, anxiety and demographic background factors.

Method: 405 Swedish adolescents were assessed in respect of Body Mass Index (BMI), biographical data, the Body Esteem Scale for Adolescents and Adults (BESAA), the Multidimensional Anxiety Scale for Children (MASC) and the Children's Depression Inventory (CDI).

Results: Boys were in the positive and girls in the negative direction from ideal BMI for age and gender. Girls and boys differed in respect of CDI, MASC and of BESAA where girls generally were shifted in the "pathological" direction.

Discussion: The adolescents' own positive attitude to slimness, negative mood (girls), and anxiety symptoms that reflect social fears (boys) and physical aspects of anxiety (girls and boys) were important correlates of lower BMI than ideal. Adolescent cultural norms need to be addressed in preventive work. However, in girls' separation anxiety might be a protective factor against underweight. In girls, overweight seems to be associated with negative self-esteem.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anxiety / diagnosis
  • Anxiety / epidemiology*
  • Anxiety / psychology*
  • Body Image*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Weight*
  • Depression / diagnosis
  • Depression / epidemiology*
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Self Concept
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Sweden / epidemiology