Trends in the perceived body size of adolescent males and females in Scotland, 1990–2014 : changing associations with mental well-being
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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.
Whitehead , R D , Cosma , A P , Cecil , J E , Currie , C E , Currie , D B , Neville , F G & Inchley , J C 2018 , ' Trends in the perceived body size of adolescent males and females in Scotland, 1990–2014 : changing associations with mental well-being ' , International Journal of Public Health , vol. 63 , no. 1 , pp. 69-80 . https://doi.org/10.1007/s00038-017-0997-y
International Journal of Public Health
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