Associations between body dissatisfaction and self-reported anxiety and depression in otherwise healthy men: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Mathew Barnes*, Purva Abhyankar, Elena Dimova, Catherine Best

*Corresponding author for this work

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It is unknown whether male body dissatisfaction is related to anxiety and depression. This study investigates whether there is an association between body dissatisfaction and self-reported anxiety and/or depression in otherwise healthy adult males.

A systematic review was conducted using Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta Analyses as the reporting guideline. Four databases including CINAHL complete, Health Source: Nursing/Academic Edition, MEDLINE and PsycINFO were searched for observational studies with a correlational design. Studies were appraised using the Appraisal tool for Cross-Sectional Studies to measure quality and risk of bias. Data were extracted from studies to analyse and synthesise findings using content analysis and random effects meta-analyses in male body dissatisfaction and anxiety, depression, and both anxiety and depression.

Twenty-three cross-sectional studies were included in the review. Nineteen studies found positive correlations between male body dissatisfaction and anxiety and/or depression. Meta-analyses of Pearson’s correlation coefficients found statistically significant associations with body satisfaction for anxiety 0.40 (95% CI 0.28 to 0.51) depression 0.34 (95% CI 0.22 to 0.45) and both anxiety and depression outcomes 0.47 (95% CI 0.33 to 0.59). The quality appraisal found study samples were homogeneous being mostly ascertained through academic institutions where participants were predominantly young, Caucasian and with relatively high educational attainment. Measures of body satisfaction focused predominantly on muscularity and thinness.

This study provides the first pooled estimates of the correlation between body dissatisfaction and anxiety and depression in men. Findings need to be interpreted with respect to the samples and outcomes of the included studies. It is recommended that future research should increase the diversity of men in studies. Studies should measure a wider range of body dissatisfaction types found in men.

The findings demonstrate that an association between male body dissatisfaction and anxiety and depression is likely to exist. Future research should address the temporal relationship between body dissatisfaction and anxiety and depression.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0229268
Number of pages24
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 25 Feb 2020


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