Body Satisfaction in Early Adolescence: A Multisite Comparison

Robert Wm Blum, Mengmeng Li, Ifta Choiriyyah, Quinn Barnette, Kristien Michielson, Kristin Mmari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: This study assesses the relationship between unequal gender perceptions, socioecological factors, and body satisfaction among early adolescents in six urban poor settings in four countries. Methods: A cross-sectional study, part of the Global Early Adolescent Study, was conducted in Shanghai, China; Cuenca, Ecuador; Kinshasa, DRC; and three cities in Indonesia: Denpasar, Semarang, and Bandar Lampung. Bivariate and multiple linear regressions were conducted to assess the relationships between body satisfaction, perceptions of gender norms, and socioecological factors. A final sample of 7840 respondents aged between 10 and 14 years were included in the analysis. Results: Adolescents who endorsed more traditional sex roles and traits were more likely to be satisfied with their bodies in Kinshasa and Indonesia, while only endorsement of GST was associated with body satisfaction in Shanghai. Individual factors related to body satisfaction varied by site and included perceived health status, perception of body weight, height, and growth rate. Family and neighborhood factors related to increased body satisfaction varied by site and sex and included closeness to parents, parental communication, discussing bodily changes with anyone, parental awareness, and perception of neighborhood. Conclusion: The results highlight the association between gender norms and social factors at individual, family, and neighborhood levels with body satisfaction. While associations differ significantly by site and sex, namely in perception of body weight and height, there exists commonalities that suggest body satisfaction, gender norms, and social context are intertwined.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S39-S46
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2021


  • Gender norms
  • adolescence
  • body image
  • body satisfaction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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