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Member Research and Reports

Minnesota: Study Suggests Body Dissatisfaction Begins Before Adolescence, Remains Constant into Adulthood

Up to 46 percent of adolescents in America report feeling dissatisfied with their bodies, which can lead to eating disorders, obesity, poor mental health, and other serious problems. A study involving University of Minnesota School of Public Health data and researchers recently tracked how people feel about their bodies from adolescence into adulthood and found evidence body dissatisfaction begins before adolescence and remains constant to at least age 30. 

Having a positive body image is integral to positive well-being during adolescence, when one is developing a sense of self-identity, but it can be challenging due to rapid growth and many physical changes during this period and the many social pressures that young people face to conform to a certain ideal,” said the study’s senior author and professor, Dr. Dianne Neumark-Sztainer

The study was led by PhD student Ms. Shirley Wang from Harvard University and published in the journal Clinical Psychological Science.

“In particular, we looked to see if any patterns emerged in body dissatisfaction as people moved from adolescence into adulthood,” said Ms. Wang. “For instance, maybe some people continue to feel worse about their bodies whereas some might start out feeling bad and then get a little bit better. In such cases, we’d wonder what distinguishes which group people fell into.” 

The analysis showed:

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