Objective To prospectively study the effect of body dissatisfaction on changes in adiposity during adolescence.
Methods We studied 1490 Portuguese adolescents evaluated at 13 and 17 years, under a population-based cohort (EPITeen). Body dissatisfaction was defined as the difference between perceived and desired body image, assessed by Stunkard figures at 13 y. BMI z-scores were computed based on CDC percentiles and body fat percentage (BF%) was assessed using bioelectric impedance. The association between body dissatisfaction and changes in adiposity was computed using linear regression models [regression coefficients (β) and (95%CI)] and adjusted for adiposity measures at 13 y.
Results At age 13 y, 39% of females desired a thinner image and 16% desired a larger image. Among males the proportions were 34% and 33%, respectively. In crude analysis, compared with adolescents who did not have body dissatisfaction, BMI z-scores significantly decreased among adolescents that desired a thinner image [β=−0.152 (−0.224; −0.080) in females and β=−0.206 (−0.296; −0.117) in males]. The opposite association was found among those who desired a larger image [β=0.176 (0.081; 0.272) in females and β=0.113 (0.023; 0.203) in males]. Similar results were found with BF%. However, after adjustment for adiposity measures at 13 y, these associations lose significance.
Conclusion We found an association between body image at 13 y and changes in adiposity. The desire of a thinner image was associated with a decrease in adiposity and the desired of a large image associated with an increase. However, the associations were dependent on anthropometric measures at age 13.
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