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Higher BMI, lower self-esteem and more abnormal eating habits are associated with greater body dissatisfaction in adolescents

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Question: Is there a relationship between excess weight, self-esteem and eating habits with body dissatisfaction (BD) and are there gender differences in the relationship?

Population: 1370 adolescents in the ninth grade of secondary school in Helsinki, Finland (mean age 14.5 years). Participating schools were selected to be representative of socioeconomic groups across the city. Participation rates were 61.4% for girls and 58.6% for boys (of the 2286 eligible students). Students with multiple missing values (2%) were excluded from the study, leaving 1343 participants for analysis.

Setting: 24 secondary schools, Helsinki, Finland; 2003–2004.

Assessment: Participants completed questionnaires regarding their health and eating habits during a 60 min data collection visit to each school. Questionnaires included measures for self-esteem, eating habits and BD. Self-esteem was assessed using the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (RSES); scores range from 10 to 40, with higher scores indicating better self-esteem. Eating habits were assessed by a single question that classified participants into normal eating or abnormal eating categories. The degree of excess body weight was assessed using body mass index (BMI). Height and weight …

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  • Sources of funding: The Foundation of Pediatric Research, the Gyllenberg Foundation, the Children's Castle Foundation, the Finnish Association of Adolescent Psychiatry and the Finnish Psychiatric Association.

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