Body image in Hispanic/Latino vs. European American adolescents: implications for treatment and prevention of obesity in underserved populations

J Health Care Poor Underserved. 2010 Aug;21(3):823-38. doi: 10.1353/hpu.0.0333.


Hispanic/Latino (H/L) vs. European American (EA) perceptions of current and ideal body image as well as body dissatisfaction were examined in 416 adolescents aged 12-15 years. Gender, culture, and body mass index (BMI) were hypothesized to affect measures of self-perceived body image and dissatisfaction differentially. Participants completed a computerized survey with gender-specific versions of applicable test items. Overall, body dissatisfaction (BD) was higher among EAs vs. H/Ls, females vs. males, and unhealthy BMI vs. healthy BMI (p<.01). A gender x ethnicity interaction trend was also noted (p>.06), in which BD was highest among EA females, followed by H/L females, EA males, and H/L males. Results suggest that gender and cultural differences in body image among adolescents are significant. This study is an important step toward clarifying the nature of weight-related health risks facing the understudied population of Hispanic/Latino teens.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Acculturation
  • Adolescent
  • Body Image*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Child
  • European Continental Ancestry Group / psychology*
  • European Continental Ancestry Group / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Hispanic Americans / psychology*
  • Hispanic Americans / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Obesity / ethnology*
  • Obesity / prevention & control
  • Obesity / therapy
  • Psychology, Adolescent*
  • Self Concept
  • Sex Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Texas / ethnology