Self-Reported Weight and Body Weight Dissatisfaction: Their Conjoint Role in Dieting and Health Complaints of Adolescents

Diana Tăut, Carmina Chițu, Adriana Băban

Abstract


This study's aim was to examine the joint influence of self-reported weight and body weight dissatisfaction on weight control strategies and physical and psychological complaints. A number of 5404 Romanian adolescents, aged between 13 and 15 years (50.6% girls) participated in a larger study assessing health risk behaviors and attitudes in youth. Participants were asked to fill in their weight and height (in order to calculate the BMI). Questions regarding body weight dissatisfaction, unhealthy weight control and physical and psychological health complaints were also addressed. We used logistic regressions to test the associations between BMI, body weight dissatisfaction, unhealthy weight control behaviors, and health complaints. The proportion of adolescents who reported being too fat was 21% with 10% of normal weight boys and 20% of normal weight girls adolescents being dissatisfied with their body weight. The most common health complaints reported by adolescents were headaches (23.3%), sleep problems (16.7%) and feeling low (32%). There were significant interactions between BMI and body weight dissatisfaction in predicting unhealthy weight control and physical and psychological symptoms. Non-overweight adolescents who perceived themselves as being too fat were more likely to engage in unhealthy weight control behaviors and more likely to report both physical and psychological symptoms compared to their overweight or those who considered themselves as being too thin. The present study suggests that the use of unhealthy weight control methods is not uncommon among adolescents who believe they are too fat but who have BMIs within the normal range. Interventions informed by research should aim to address boy weight concerns and to equip adolescents with skills in order to critically appraise body weight ideals.

Keywords


body dissatisfaction; health complaints; diet; obesity

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