Body dissatisfaction, engagement in body change behaviors and sociocultural influences on body image among Chinese adolescents

Body Image. 2010 Mar;7(2):156-64. doi: 10.1016/j.bodyim.2009.11.003. Epub 2010 Jan 20.


Body dissatisfaction and body image disorders are becoming increasingly prevalent in developing non-Western countries such as China, but there is a lack of research examining the sociocultural factors that in other contexts have been associated with these problems. The current study investigated body dissatisfaction, engagement in body change behaviors, and sociocultural pressures on body image, and the relationships between these variables among 517 adolescent males (N=219) and females (N=298) in China. Females reported greater body dissatisfaction than males, and males reported using strategies to increase their muscle bulk more often than females. Males reported pressure from a variety of sociocultural sources to increase their muscles or weight, while females reported pressure from the media to lose weight. For males body dissatisfaction was predicted by pressure from peers to increase their muscle bulk, while for females pressure to lose weight from peers, adult relatives, and the media was likely to increase body dissatisfaction. Pressure from the media and adult relatives was also predictive of body change behaviors in both males and females. The findings are discussed in relation to previous research in both Western and non-Western contexts.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Asians / psychology*
  • Body Image*
  • Child
  • China
  • Cross-Cultural Comparison*
  • Family / ethnology
  • Family / psychology
  • Female
  • Gender Identity
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Internal-External Control
  • Male
  • Mass Media
  • Muscle Strength*
  • Peer Group
  • Personal Satisfaction*
  • Social Conformity*
  • Social Values / ethnology*
  • Weight Loss / ethnology*