Self-esteem, body satisfaction, and body mass index in adolescents
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Objective: The aim of the study was to assess and compare self-esteem and body satisfaction among male and female adolescents with varying body mass indices. Method: The sample consisted of 129 male and female adolescents between the ages of 11 and 13 (M = 12.29) and was approximately evenly divided by gender (female: 54%). Body Mass Index (BMI) ranged from 14.60 (1st percentile) to 42.20 (Above 99th percentile) with a mean value of 22.43 (69.6th percentile). Body Satisfaction was assessed using the Mendelson Body Esteem Scale (BES) and Self-Esteem was measured using the Harter Self Perception Profile for Adolescents and Adults (SPPA). Results: Results showed a significant correlation between body satisfaction and self-esteem across gender (r = .18, p = .05) which did not change after adjusting for BMI (pr = .19, p = .033). BMI did not have a mediating effect on the relationship between body satisfaction and self-esteem. This study found a gender effect on body satisfaction with females reporting greater body satisfaction than males (F (1,121) = 3.84, p = .052). Discussion: While a significant relationship was found between self-esteem and body satisfaction in both males and females, the significance was small. BMI seemed to have no effect on this relationship in either males or females, disproving our hypothesis that BMI mediates the relationship between body satisfaction and self-esteem in adolescents. In contrast to what has been found in research, BMI was not found to be related to either body satisfaction or self-esteem independently in this sample. In contrast to what has been established in research, this study found that female adolescents reported greater body satisfaction than males. It is possible that the reason for this unexpected finding falls within the sample age group. At age 12, one may just be entering adolescence and the effects on body satisfaction and self-esteem may not be felt strongly in females of this age as in later adolescent years. Moreover, our sample was localized to a single public school. Research comparing adolescents from multiple and more varied locations may provide more extensive information.
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