Body Image Dissatisfaction Among Third, Fourth, and Fifth Grade Children

Karen Skemp-Arlt, Keely Rees, Richard Mikat, Elizabeth Seebach
2006 Californian Journal of Health Promotion   unpublished
Body image dissatisfaction has become increasingly more prevalent among the preadolescent population over recent years. This study examines the level of body image dissatisfaction among 261 third, fourth, and fifth grade girls and boys. A pictorial scale was used to assess how the participants viewed their current body shape, their ideal body shape, and what they believed to be the ideal body shape of the opposite gender. Overall results indicated that 50.6% of the children surveyed were
more » ... sfied with their current body shape, 41.8% wanted to be thinner, while 8.8% wanted to be larger. Fifty percent of the girls were dissatisfied with their current body shape, with 45.1% wishing to be thinner. Boys showed similar trends, with 48.9% dissatisfied and 38.9% wishing to be thinner. A greater percentage of boys wanted to be larger than their current body shape (12.3%) compared to girls (4.9%). A significant difference was found between genders regarding the difference between scores of their current self and ideal self, where girls selected a smaller ideal body shape than the boys. An encouraging finding was that the level of body dissatisfaction decreased from third grade to fifth grade among both genders. Girls, however, still wished to be thinner over time. Boys, on the other hand, indicated a preference for a somewhat larger body shape over time. These results indicate that body image dissatisfaction exists prior to adolescence among this sample of children. Prevention strategies and education are encouraged among this age group.