Body image distortions such as perception biases are assumed to be precursors of eating disorders (ED). This study aims to investigate body image perceptions and symptoms of disturbed eating behavior among a sample of 11–17 year-old students in Germany.
A cross-sectional survey study was carried out among 1524 students of twelve secondary schools from all school types in North Rhine-Westphalia (Germany). A naturalistic photograph-rating consisting of photographs of young women’s bodies was used to examine children’s perceptions of female bodies (i.e., perceived average body size and perceived ideal body size of young women). Also, symptoms of disturbed eating behavior were examined.
Compared to statistical data, children and adolescents underestimated the average body size of young women by more than two BMI-points (estimated average BMI = 20), with no differences between boys and girls. Also, girls and boys generally held a slim female thin-ideal (perceived ideal BMI = 19.5), which is nearly three BMI-points below the average body size in the young female population. Girls showed a slightly stronger female thin-ideal than boys. Among all subgroups, early-adolescent girls (13–14 years) displayed the strongest thin-ideal internalization. Nearly one-third of this group perceived a BMI below 18 as ideal female body size. Symptoms of disturbed eating behavior were common among youth and most frequent among adolescent girls (15–17 years). Girls who displayed a bias towards underestimation of female body size and girls who displayed an underweight female thin-ideal were more likely to report harmful dieting behaviors and psychological distress associated with eating, body, and weight.
This study found that 11–17 year-old girls and boys do not show accurate judgements regarding the average body size of young women. Instead, there is systematic and significant underestimation, indicating considerable perception biases, which may constitute a risk factor for the development and maintenance of ED. Symptoms of disturbed eating behavior were common, especially among girls, and associated with body-related perceptions. Future research will need to clarify the severity and course of these symptoms.
Vossbeck-Elsebusch AN, Vocks S, Legenbauer T. Body exposure for eating disorders: technique and relevance for therapy outcome. Psychother Psych Med. 2013;63(5):193–200. CrossRef
Rodin J. Women and weight: a normative discontent. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press; 1985.
Tremblay L. Body image disturbance and psychopathology in children: research evidence and implications for prevention and treatment. Curr Psychiatry Rev. 2009;5:62–72. CrossRef
Jones JM, Bennett S, Olmsted MP, Lawson ML, Rodin G. Disordered eating attitudes and behaviours in teenaged girls: a school-based study. Can Med Assoc J (journal de l’Association medicale canadienne). 2001;165(5):547–52.
Herpertz-Dahlmann B, Dempfle A, Konrad K, Klasen F, Ravens-Sieberer U, BELLA study group. Eating disorder symptoms do not just disappear: the implications of adolescent eating-disordered behaviour for body weight and mental health in young adulthood. Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2015;24(6):675–84. CrossRefPubMed
Gardner RM, Brown DL. Body image assessment: a review of figural drawing scales. Pers Individ Differ. 2010;48(2):107–11. CrossRef
Swami V, Salem N, Furnham A, Tovee MJ. Initial examination of the validity and reliability of the female photographic figure rating scale for body image assessment. Pers Individ Differ. 2008;44(8):1752–61. CrossRef
Truby H, Paxton SJ. Development of the Children’s Body Image Scale. Brit J Clin Psychol. 2002;41:185–203. CrossRef
Jansen A, Smeets T, Martijn C, Nederkoorn C. I see what you see: the lack of a self-serving body-image bias in eating disorders. Brit J Clin Psychol. 2006;45:123–35. CrossRef
Stunkard A, Sorensen T, Schulsinger F. Use of the Danish Adoption Register for the study of obesity and thinness. Res Publ Assoc Res Nerv Ment Dis. 1983;60:115–20. PubMed
Fairburn CG, Beglin SJ. Assessment of eating disorder psychopathology. Interview or self-report questionnaire? Int J Eat Disord. 1994;16:363–70. PubMed
Hilbert A, Tuschen-Caffiert B. Eating disorder examination: Deutschsprachige Übersetzung. Münster: Verlag für Psychotherapy: 2006.
Israel AC, Ivanova MY. Global and dimensional self-esteem in preadolescent and early adolescent children who are overweight: age and gender differences. Int J Eat Disorder. 2002;31(4):424–9. CrossRef
Bundesamt 2014. Retrieved from: https://www.destatis.de/DE/ZahlenFakten/GesellschaftStaat/BildungForschungKultur/Schulen/Schulen.html. Accessed 19 Jan 2018.
Mikrozensus 2013. Retrieved from: https://www.destatis.de/DE/ZahlenFakten/GesellschaftStaat/Gesundheit/GesundheitszustandRelevantesVerhalten/Tabellen/Koerpermasse.html. Accessed 19 Jan 2018.
Sanderson CA, Darley JM, Messinger CS. “I’m not as thin as you think I am”: the development and consequences of feeling discrepant from the thinness norm. Pers Soc Psychol B. 2002;28(2):172–83. CrossRef
- Body image perceptions and symptoms of disturbed eating behavior among children and adolescents in Germany
- BioMed Central
Neu im Fachgebiet Psychiatrie
Meistgelesene Bücher aus dem Fachgebiet
e.Med Kampagnen-Visual, Mail Icon II