Body size dissatisfaction among young adults from the 1982 Pelotas birth cohort

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Abstract

BACKGROUND/OBJECTIVES:

To identify the prevalence and factors associated with body dissatisfaction.

SUBJECTS/METHODS:

Birth cohort study investigating 4100 subjects (2187 men and 1913 women) aged between 22 and 23 years who answered questionnaires, including the body satisfaction Stunkard Scale were included in the study; they were weighed and measured. Multinomial logistic regression was used in the crude and adjusted analyses.

RESULTS:

The prevalence of body dissatisfaction was 64% (95% CI, 62.7-65.6); 42% (95% CI, 40.6-43.6) of the subjects reported feeling larger than the desired body size, and 22% (95% CI, 20.7-23.3) reported feeling smaller than desired. Underweight subjects, subjects with less schooling, poor and sedentary male subjects with low psychological well-being and female subjects who were already mothers were more likely to express body dissatisfaction, perceiving their body as smaller than the desirable body size. The prevalence of body dissatisfaction was also high among overweight subjects, subjects with a high socioeconomic status and married female subjects, who perceived their body size as too large. Minor psychiatric disorders were associated with body dissatisfaction in all subjects, regardless of perceiving themselves as larger or smaller than the desired body size. Most women perceived themselves as larger, but similar proportions of men perceived themselves as too small or too large.

CONCLUSIONS:

Body dissatisfaction was observed among men and women with normal weight, but it was more evident in the obese individuals. Regardless of the nutritional status, both men and women should be appropriately counseled because body size perception can lead to unhealthy behaviors in relation to diet and physical activity.

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