Title

Sad and lonely: body dissatisfaction among adolescent girls

Keywords

adolescent girls, body dissatisfaction, emotional well-being, parents, peers, sadness

Abstract

Purpose: To further understand the association between body dissatisfaction and sadness/loneliness among adolescent girls, we examine how this association, as reported by pre-teen and adolescent girls, is mediated or moderated by the quality of peer and family relationships. Methods: Our data are from the Health Behavior of School-Aged Children 2009–2010, a nationally representative survey of school-aged children in the US. We analyze a sample of 5658 girls in Grades 5 through 10. We utilize ordinary least squares (OLS) regression techniques and adjust for the complex sampling design. We explore how the link between body dissatisfaction and sadness/loneliness is mediated or moderated by family and peer relationships and also include controls for age, race, media exposure, and physical health. Results: We find that body dissatisfaction is predictive of sadness/loneliness for girls at all grade levels and that the quality of peer and family relationships mediates 27%–38% of this association, particularly among early adolescent girls. Positive peer relationships also moderate or help mitigate the association between body dissatisfaction and sadness/loneliness among pre-teens. Conclusion: Our findings underscore the association between body dissatisfaction and sadness/loneliness among early adolescent girls. In addition, our results highlight the importance of quality peer and family relationships in terms of how girls think about their bodies and respond emotionally to them. To evaluate feelings of sadness and loneliness among early adolescent girls, health care professionals need to consider not only body dissatisfaction but also the context of peer and family relationships.

Original Publication Citation

Forste, Renata, Marina Haddock Potter, and Lance Erickson. (Published online ahead of print 2017). “Sad and Lonely: Body Dissatisfaction among Adolescent Girls.” International Journal of Adolescent Medicine and Health.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date

2017-02-12

Publisher

International Journal of Adolescent Medicine and Health

Language

English

College

Family, Home, and Social Sciences

Department

Sociology

University Standing at Time of Publication

Assistant Professor

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