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Body Dissatisfaction at 14 Predicts Depressive Episodes at 18

TUESDAY, Dec. 8, 2020 — Body dissatisfaction at age 14 years is associated with depressive episodes at age 18 years, according to a study published online Dec. 7 in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health.

Anna Bornioli, Ph.D., from the University of the West of England in Bristol, and colleagues examined the influence of body dissatisfaction on the occurrence of later depressive episodes among 2,078 female and 1,675 male adolescents from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children cohort. Body dissatisfaction was assessed at age 14 years, and the association with onset of depressive episodes at 18 years was examined, controlling for baseline depression.

The researchers found that body dissatisfaction predicted mild, moderate, and severe depressive episodes among girls (odds ratios [95 percent confidence intervals], 1.63 [1.31 to 2.04], 1.67 [1.28 to 2.18], and 1.84 [1.09 to 3.12], respectively). Body dissatisfaction predicted mild and severe depressive episodes among boys (odds ratios [95 percent confidence intervals], 1.50 [1.00 to 2.25] and 2.85 [1.18 to 6.87], respectively).

“These findings demonstrate that body dissatisfaction should be considered as a public health issue of pressing concern,” the authors write. “Body dissatisfaction is highly prevalent among young people in the general population and has an increasing incidence; the findings indicate that reducing body dissatisfaction might be an effective strategy to reduce mental health issues.”

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