A Cross-Cultural Study of Adolescents – BMI, Body Image and Psychological Well-Being

Other literature type English OPEN
Sujoldžić, Anita ; De Lucia, Amelia (2007)
  • Publisher: Croatian Anthropological Society
  • Journal: Collegium antropologicum, volume 31, issue 1 (issn: 0350-6134)
  • Subject: adolescents; acculturation; BMI; body image; psychological well-being

Physical, psychological and social changes that occur during adolescence can markedly affect dietary habits and nutritional health. Physical changes including rapid growth place extra nutritional requirements on adolescents, while culture and society require adjustments in all of the aspects of daily living, including psychosocial well-being. Adolescents become focused on the physical appearance and any deviation from the ideal figure can result in negative dieting behavior, social withdrawal, poor self-esteem and increased health vulnerability. The paper presents some of the results of an international comparative study on risk and protective factors of adolescent health and well being, related to BMI, dieting behavior and body image and their relationship to psychosocial well-being (somatic stress, anxiety, depression, life satisfaction and self-esteem). Within an ecological cultural framework, it looks at group-specific differences of Albanian and Bosnian adolescents within different socio-cultural contexts across six European countries: two EU members (Italy and Austria) and four communities in the state of socioeconomic and political transition (Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania and Kosovo). The survey collected data from 2000 adolescents between 15 and 18 years of age. The study demonstrated a strong relationship between BMI and body dissatisfaction, between body image and dietary habits, and strong effects of body image on all indicators of psychosocial health. In addition to expected marked gender differences in all countries, the obtained results indicate significant intracultural variations related to socioeconomic status as well as considerable intercultural variations due to variable influence specific social and cultural contexts.
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