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A prospective study of pressures from parents, peers, and the media on extreme weight change behaviors among adolescent boys and girls
journal contributionposted on 2005-05-01, 00:00 authored by M McCabe, L Ricciardelli
The current study was designed to evaluate the role of sociocultural influences over a 16 month period on strategies to lose weight, extreme weight loss strategies, and strategies to increase muscles among adolescent boys (n=344) and girls (n=246). All participants completed measures of body dissatisfaction, body image importance, strategies to lose weight, extreme weight loss strategies, and strategies to increase muscles. Measures of perceived pressure to lose weight or increase muscles from mother, father, best male friend, best female friend and the media were also evaluated. Data were gathered on three occasions, 8 months apart. The results demonstrated that boys showed a decrease in strategies to lose weight and increase muscles over time, whereas girls showed an increase. Both boys and girls showed an increase in extreme weight loss strategies with girls demonstrating a greater increase than boys. The sociocultural influences generally were perceived by girls to relate to messages to lose weight, whereas for boys they were perceived to relate to increasing muscles. Messages from parents, particularly fathers, were strong predictors of both strategies to lose weight and increase muscles among boys, with the media and best male friend playing a limited role. For girls, the strongest influences were mothers and best female friends, with few influences from fathers or the media. The results of this study are discussed in terms of the importance of the various sociocultural influences in shaping body change strategies among young adolescent boys and girls, and the implications of these findings for intervention programs for adolescents.