Attitudinal and Perceptual Dimensions of Body Image in Adolescents
Background: Body image is viewed as a multidimensional construct, a combination of perception and attitude regarding the body. Prevalence studies in body image concerns indicate the widespread incidence of body discontent in adolescent girls. The purpose of the study was to assess the attitudinal and perceptual dimensions of body image and the current level of body dissatisfaction, in Indian female adolescents
Methods: Cross sectional observational study with a sample of 303 female adolescents, age 15-17 years. Informed consent was obtained from parents and participants. Materials used were Body Image Instrument and BMI ratings.
Results: In the perceptual dimensions, more than 23.7% of girls perceived themselves as overweight and obese while in actuality only 13% were overweight, thus indicating a trend towards prevalence of faulty body images. In the attitudinal dimensions, around 60% of the adolescent girls identified a thinner ideal body contour in comparison to their current figure. Significant discontent towards their current weight is experienced by adolescents within the normal BMI category, with more than 58.32 % of them desiring to be thinner.
Conclusion: In the context of weight concerns of Indian adolescents, there is an observable shift in preferences of body shape towards a thinner ideal. Adolescents experience a common dissatisfaction with their current bodies, irrespective of whether they desired to increase their body size or reduce it. These results hold great significance in the current context, wherein mental health professionals may witness an increase in body image disturbances and eating disorders, in Indian adolescents.