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Weight status and body image perceptions in adolescents: current perspectives

Authors Voelker D, Reel J, Greenleaf C

Received 26 May 2015

Accepted for publication 8 July 2015

Published 25 August 2015 Volume 2015:6 Pages 149—158


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Professor Steven Youngentob

Video abstract presented by Dana K Voelker

Views: 807

Dana K Voelker,1 Justine J Reel,2 Christy Greenleaf3

1West Virginia University, College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences, Morgantown, WV, 2University of North Carolina Wilmington, College of Health and Human Services, Wilmington, NC, 3University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, College of Health Sciences, Milwaukee, WI, USA

Abstract: Adolescence represents a pivotal stage in the development of positive or negative body image. Many influences exist during the teen years including transitions (eg, puberty) that affect one’s body shape, weight status, and appearance. Weight status exists along a spectrum between being obese (ie, where one’s body weight is in the 95th percentile for age and gender) to being underweight. Salient influences on body image include the media, which can target adolescents, and peers who help shape beliefs about the perceived body ideal. Internalization of and pressures to conform to these socially prescribed body ideals help to explain associations between weight status and body image. The concepts of fat talk and weight-related bullying during adolescence greatly contribute to an overemphasis on body weight and appearance as well as the development of negative body perceptions and dissatisfaction surrounding specific body parts. This article provides an overview of the significance of adolescent development in shaping body image, the relationship between body image and adolescent weight status, and the consequences of having a negative body image during adolescence (ie, disordered eating, eating disorders, and dysfunctional exercise). Practical implications for promoting a healthy weight status and positive body image among adolescents will be discussed.

Keywords: adolescence, eating disorders, obesity, bullying, puberty, physical activity

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