Trends in the perceived body size of adolescent males and females in Scotland, 1990–2014: changing associations with mental well-being

Ross David Whitehead, Alina Paula Cosma, Joanne Elizabeth Cecil, Candace Evelyn Currie, Dorothy Bruce Currie, Fergus Gilmour Neville, Joanna Catherine Inchley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
17 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Objectives:This paper explores trends in Scottish adolescents’ body size perceptions and associated mental well-being outcomes.Methods:Data were collected on Scottish 11, 13 and 15-year olds by the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children study between 1990 and 2014 (n=42,312). Logistic regression was used to examine changes in the prevalence of over- and underweight perceptions. Ordinal and linear regression was used to examine changes in the association between body perception and mental well-being.Results:Little change was observed in over- or under-weight perceptions between 1990 and 2014. However, relative to those perceiving their body as ‘about right’, those perceiving themselves as overweight reported decreasing confidence (all groups), decreasing happiness (11- and 13-year old girls) and increasing psychological symptoms (all girls and 15 year-old boys). Perceived underweight is associated with poor well-being, especially in males, but we present little evidence that this is a recent phenomenon.Conclusions:We present evidence suggesting that the influence of body image on adolescent mental health is increasing over time. This may play a role in the recently observed worsening of mental well-being in Scottish adolescents.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-80
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Public Health
Volume63
Issue number1
Early online date1 Jul 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2018

Keywords

  • Body image
  • Body size perception
  • Overweight
  • Underweight
  • Adolescents
  • Mental well-being
  • Overweight/psychology
  • Prevalence
  • Body Size
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Scotland/epidemiology
  • Body Image/psychology
  • Mental Disorders/epidemiology
  • Adolescent
  • Female
  • Thinness/psychology
  • Child

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