Ibero-American Journal of Exercise and Sports Psychology

BODY IMAGE AND BODY SATISFACTION AMONG ADULTS: DIFFERENCES BY GENDER AND AGE

Abstract

María J. Ramírez, Débora Godoy, Mª Luisa Vázquez, Raquel Lara, Estefanía Navarrón, Mercedes Vélez, Ana Padial y Manuel Jiménez

Nowadays, there is great interest in body appearance due to both aesthetic and health reasons, this occurring not only among women and the youth, but also among men and older adults. The relevance of this phenomenon lies, among other reasons, on its association with healthy or risk behaviors, including exercise practice. Objectives and method: To explore Body Image (IC) through three body perceptions: Current (ICA), Ideal (ICI) and Social (ICS) body image, as well as Body Satisfaction (SC) in a sample of 18 to 40 years old adults, and to establish possible differences by sex and age. Participants voluntarily completed an online survey on their bodily perceptions, SC and other issues. ICA, ICI and ICS were assessed by questions and silhouettes corresponding to different values of BMI and muscle composition. SC was assessed by questions and through the ICA-ICI discrepancy. Results: The ICA and ICS, as well as the SC, were moderately positive. The ICI was significantly more toned and thinner than the ICA. Men demonstrated perceptions of ICA, ICI, ICS and SC significantly more positive than women. Older young adults showed a significantly better ICA but also a more demanding ICI than younger young adults. An interaction effect age*sex was found for the ICA-ICI discrepancy. Conclusions: Given that negative perceptions of body appearance and poor SC are related to unhealthy behaviors and increased risk of several health problems, our findings are interesting for the design of interventions aimed at improving IC and SC based on healthy behaviors, including exercise, taking into account age and sex.

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