Higher Body Satisfaction Makes Overweight Girls Less Prone to Eating Disorders

Overweight girls who have high body-satisfaction tend to have fewer negative thoughts about negative emotions that are commonly associated with being overweight. They are less inclined to go on diets, vomiting or skipping meals, say a study to be published in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

For the study, the researchers surveyed 103 overweight girls during between 2004 and 2006. The participants were assessed on body satisfaction, weight control behaviours, eating-related thoughts, depression, anger, importance placed on thinness, anxiety, etc.

The researchers found that adolescents who had higher body satisfaction also had higher self esteem and lower levels of anxiety or stress. These adolescents were also less likely to be depressed than the overweight adults who had less body-satisfaction.

"We found that girls with high body satisfaction had a lower likelihood of unhealthy weight-control behaviors like fasting, skipping meals or vomiting," said the study’s author Kerri Boutelle, PhD, associate professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at University of California.

She added that enhancing self image will be beneficial in helping girls to manage weight.

"A focus on enhancing self-image while providing motivation and skills to engage in effect weight-control behaviors may help protect young girls from feelings of depression, anxiety or anger sometimes association with being overweight,” Boutelle said.

In another study also published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, researchers say that lower body-satisfaction was a de-motivator in adolescents. Lower body satisfaction resulted in eating disorders like binge eating that lead to more weight gain. The researchers, Dianne Neumark-Sztainer and colleagues, suggest, “interventions with adolescents should strive to enhance body satisfaction and avoid messages likely to lead to decreases in body satisfaction.”

This study was based on a study group of more than 2500 adolescents from 1999 to 2004.

A study that focused on ethnicity and body satisfaction found that Hispanic girls and Asian girls were at a greater risk of having eating disorders due to poor body satisfaction.

Another study found that over a quarter of 2357 adolescent girls surveyed in 1998-99 had positive body image. African-American girls (40%) and thin girls (39.0%) had high body satisfaction.

Television and magazines are often regarded as factors that influence girls to be thinner that leads to young girls to many eating disorders. There are hundreds of studies that draw conclusions between media like television and magazines and poor self esteem or body-image. There are however, studies that have found that the girls who wish to be thinner aren’t necessarily suffering from lower body-satisfaction.

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 17 percent or 12.5 million of children and adolescents are obese. Since 1980, obesity prevalence among adolescents has tripled.