Toward understanding the role of body dissatisfaction in the gender differences in depressive symptoms and disordered eating: a longitudinal study during adolescence

J Adolesc. 2014 Jan;37(1):73-84. doi: 10.1016/j.adolescence.2013.10.013. Epub 2013 Nov 22.


This study was aimed at examining whether body dissatisfaction in early adolescence contributes to the development of gender differences in depressive symptoms and disordered eating across early to mid-adolescence, testing both a mediation hypothesis (higher levels of body dissatisfaction in girls, provided body dissatisfaction is a predictor of psychopathology beyond the effect of gender) and a moderation hypothesis (more detrimental effect of body dissatisfaction in girls). A community-based sample initially comprising 882 (49.55% female) adolescents (M(age) = 12.85) was followed-up after 2 and 4 years. Multilevel models were used to analyze the data. Results supported the mediation hypothesis for depressive symptoms and disordered eating, and the moderation hypothesis for disordered eating. Whereas gender differences in depressive symptoms may be simply linked to dissimilar levels of body dissatisfaction in girls and boys, gender differences in disordered eating may arise from both dissimilar levels and effects of body dissatisfaction for each gender.

Keywords: Body dissatisfaction; Depressive symptoms; Disordered eating; Gender differences.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Body Image*
  • Child
  • Depression*
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Self Concept*
  • Sex Factors