Gender differences in body satisfaction

Obes Res. 1997 Sep;5(5):402-9. doi: 10.1002/j.1550-8528.1997.tb00662.x.


Although men and women show similar rates of obesity, women more frequently engage in weight loss efforts, with potentially adverse health consequences. We surveyed 320 college-aged men and women to examine gender differences in the determinants of body dissatisfaction and the degree of importance assigned to bodyweight and shape. Results indicated that, for both genders, satisfaction with bodyweight and shape decreased as body mass index (BMI) increased. Women, however, showed significantly greater body and weight dissatisfaction than men at most weight categories. Only the underweight (BMI < 20) women and men were similarly satisfied with their bodyweight and shape. As BMI increased, however, women became disproportionately more dissatisfied: both normal-weight and overweight women expressed greater dissatisfaction than comparable men. College-aged women also attributed progressively more importance to both weight and shape as BMI increased, unlike college-aged men, who considered body weight equally important to (or slightly less important than) self-esteem as BMI increased. We discuss implications for the self-esteem of obese women and men.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Body Constitution
  • Body Image*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Regression Analysis
  • Sex Factors*
  • Weight Loss*