Aims: To evaluate the prevalence of body dissatisfaction and the association with depressive symptoms in 13-year-old adolescents, according to gender, and also to analyse the possible modifying effect of body mass index on this association.
Methods: We evaluated 1868 adolescents as part of a population-based study in an urban community in Porto, Portugal. Using the Figure Rating Scale, participants choose their perceived and their desired figures; body dissatisfaction was measured by the difference between these values. The Beck Disorder Inventory II was used to measure depressive symptoms. Weight and height were measured by trained interviewers. To quantify the association between depressive symptoms and body dissatisfaction, regression parameters and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were obtained by linear regression and bootstrapping.
Results: Among females, 15.8% desired a bigger figure and 41.4% desired a thinner figure. Among males, this occurred for 34.1% and 33.5%, respectively. After adjustment, we found that body dissatisfaction was associated with increased depressive symptoms, in both genders, especially in those participants who wish to be thinner and in those presenting higher discrepancy between figures (B = 6.5, 95% CI 4.1;9.3 for females, B = 3.3, 95% CI 1.3;6.8 for males). The association between body dissatisfaction and depressive symptoms was stronger among non-overweight (for participants who wish to be thinner: B = 5.18 95% CI 3.56; 6.95 vs. B = 3.49, 95% CI 1.70; 5.29 among females and B = 2.47, 95% CI 0.73; 4.76 vs. B = 1.60, 95% CI 0.34; 2.88 among males).
Conclusions: The direct association between the wish to be thinner and depressive symptoms was stronger among the non-overweight youth.