Background: Compared to males, female adolescents show greater concerns about their appearance, concerns related to their self-esteem. We explored the associations between self-esteem, body image and BMI as proxies for appearance, and eating-disordered behavior among adolescent females.
Methods: A total of 263 females (mean age:15.78 years) took part in this study. They completed questionnaires covering anthropometric characteristics, self-esteem, eating-disordered behavior, subjective physical activity levels, and body image.
Results: Higher scores for self-esteem were associated with higher scores for eating-disordered behavior, indices of physical activity, and slimmer body image. Body image was not associated with eating-disordered behavior. Multiple regression analyses showed that self-esteem, but not physical activity, or body image predicted eating-disordered behavior.
Conclusions: Among a non-clinical sample of female adolescents, self-esteem and eating-disordered behavior were positively associated. Body image was associated in a complex and contradictory fashion. It is possible that cognitive-emotional mastering of the vital impulse to eat may enhance self-esteem.
Keywords: BMI; adolescents; eating-disordered behavior; physical activity; self-esteem.