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Body dissatisfaction predicts the onset of depression among adolescent females and males: a prospective study
  1. Anna Bornioli,
  2. Helena Lewis-Smith,
  3. Amy Slater,
  4. Isabelle Bray
  1. University of the West of England Bristol, Bristol, UK
  1. Correspondence to Erasmus University, Rotterdam, The Netherlands; bornioli{at}


Rationale Body dissatisfaction is prevalent in mid-adolescence and may be associated with the onset of depression.

Objective The study assessed the influence of body dissatisfaction on the occurrence of later depressive episodes in a population-based sample of British adolescents.

Method Participants were 2078 females and 1675 males from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) cohort. Logistic regression was used to test if body dissatisfaction at 14 years old predicted the onset of depressive episodes at 18 years old, controlling for baseline depression.

Results Among females, body dissatisfaction predicted mild (OR=1.63, 95% CI=1.31, 2.04), moderate (OR=1.67, 95% CI=1.28, 2.18) and severe depressive episodes (OR=1.84, 95% CI=1.09, 3.12). Among males, body dissatisfaction predicted mild (OR=1.50, 95% CI=1.00, 2.25) and severe depressive episodes (OR=2.85, 95% CI=1.18, 6.87) at 18 years of age.

Conclusions This is the first prospective study to demonstrate that body dissatisfaction in adolescence predicts the occurrence of later depressive episodes in a cohort born in the early 1990s. The findings highlight that body dissatisfaction is a public health concern.


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  • Contributors All authors contributed to the planning and conceptualisation of the research. HLS, AS, and IB obtained the dataset and conducted data cleaning and conceptualised the scales. AB conducted data analysis and reporting. HLS, AS and IB contributed to data analysis and reporting. AS and IB were responsible for the overall content as guarantors. All authors approved the final manuscript as submitted and agree to be accountable for all aspects of the work.

  • Funding The UK Medical Research Council and Wellcome (Grant ref: 102215/2/13/2) and the University of Bristol provided core support for ALSPAC. This publication is the work of the authors, and they will serve as guarantors for the contents of this paper. A comprehensive list of grants funding is available on the ALSPAC website ( This research was specifically funded by an internal research funding from the University of the West of England.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer-reviewed.

  • Data availability statement Data may be obtained from a third party and are not publicly available.

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.