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Gender differences in body image dissatisfaction. Eating disturbance and perception of media imagery in pre-adolescent children

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posted on 21.10.2014, 13:27 by Lisa C. Rabone
The aims of the present study were to a) examine gender differences in body image dissatisfaction, disordered eating and drive for muscularity in pre-adolescent children and b) to explore whether children experienced perceptual distortions whilst looking at media imagery. One hundred and ninety one children aged between nine and ten years participated in the study. Levels of body image dissatisfaction were found to be equal amongst boys and girls. However, their expression of body image dissatisfaction differed, in that most girls wished for a thinner body shape, whereas the boys were equally split between those who wished to be thinner and those who wished to be larger. There were no gender differences in levels of eating disturbance. Boys reported a significantly higher drive for muscularity than girls. A significant interaction was found between the gender and the size of media celebrities on the perceptual distortion task. The clinical implications of these findings are discussed. This includes the need for educational work with professionals and children, to raise awareness of the rising prevalence of eating disturbance and body image dissatisfaction in pre-adolescent children and gender differences in their expression. The results of this study also suggest that clinical services may see a rising prevalence of eating disorders and exercise disorders in males. Implications for further research are discussed.



Christie, Marilyn

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School of Psychology

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University of Leicester

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