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A prospective study of body image dissatisfaction and BMI change in school-age children

  • Ofra Duchin (a1), Constanza Marin (a2), Mercedes Mora-Plazas (a2), Carlos Mendes de Leon (a3), Joyce M Lee (a4), Ana Baylin (a3) and Eduardo Villamor (a3)...



Body image dissatisfaction (BID) in school-age children is positively associated with weight status in cross-sectional studies; however, it is uncertain whether BID is a risk factor for the development of adiposity over time. The aim of the present study was to examine the association of BID with changes in BMI in school-age children.


Longitudinal study. At recruitment, children were asked to indicate the silhouette that most closely represented their current and desired body shapes using child-adapted Stunkard scales. Baseline BID was calculated as the difference of current minus desired body image. Height and weight were measured at recruitment and then annually for a median of 2·5 years. Sex-specific BMI-for-age curves were estimated by levels of baseline BID, using mixed-effects models with restricted cubic splines.


Public primary schools in Bogotá, Colombia.


Six hundred and twenty-nine children aged 5–12 years.


In multivariable analyses, thin boys who desired to be thinner gained an estimated 5·8 kg/m2 more BMI from age 6 to 14 years than boys without BID (P = 0·0004). Heavy boys who desired to be heavier or thinner gained significantly more BMI than boys without BID (P = 0·003 and P = 0·007, respectively). Thin girls who desired to be heavier or thinner gained significantly less BMI than girls without BID (P = 0·0008 and P = 0·05, respectively), whereas heavy girls who desired to be heavier gained an estimated 4·8 kg/m2 less BMI than girls without BID (P = 0·0006). BID was not related to BMI change in normal-weight children.


BID is associated with BMI trajectories of school-age children in a sex- and weight-specific manner.

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