Subjective body-image dimensions in normal and anorexic adolescents


Section of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Corporació Sanitaria Clínic, Sabino de Arana 1, Barcelona 08028, Spain


The subjective body dimensions of adolescent anorexic patients and adolescents from the general population were studied by means of a new technique that combines certain characteristics of the ‘body-site estimation’ and the ‘whole-image adjustment’ procedures. The technique used (Subjective Body Dimensions Apparatus-SBDA) reveals the individual's idea of the size of the different parts of his/her body, and produces a life-size global silhouette. Eighty-five female anorexic patients (ages 12 to 18) were compared with 427 adolescents from the general population. The technique showed acceptable test-retest stability. The comparison group overestimated their thorax, waist and hips, and anorexic patients overestimated all parts of their body but their thorax, waist and hips especially. For all parts of the body, the anorexic group showed greater over-estimation (p < .0001) than the comparison group.