Gender differences in body image dissatisfaction: The role of physical education and sport
Body image is a multidimensional construct encompassing how we perceive, think, feel, and act toward our bodies and lies on a continuum from healthy body perceptions to unhealthy body perceptions. Previous researches suggest that adolescent girls experience higher levels of body dissatisfaction than do their male counterparts. Therefore, the aim of this research was to investigate on gender differences concerning the perceived body dissatisfaction and uneasiness by adolescents and the role played by the physical education in the process of positive development of the mental representation of the corporeity. 100 students (14-15 years) participated voluntarily in the study and were assigned to trained group (n = 50; 25M, 25F) regularly practicing sports outside the school hours, or untrained group (n = 50; 25M, 25F) did not practice any extracurricular physical activity in the period before the study. After anthropometric measurements (BMI), two standardized psychological tests to assess the degree of personal satisfaction towards their body were administered (i.e., Body uneasiness test (BUT) and contour drawing rating scale (CDRS)). BUT and CDRS scores were significantly lower for total trained group and trained females (p < 0.05). Also, total trained group and males and females trained showed a significant lower BMI (p < 0.05), whereas no significant difference was observed between the untrained and trained males for BUT and CDRS. Findings showed a better body-size perception and a smaller body uneasiness by trained adolescents. Moreover, girls showed anyway a greater dissatisfaction and uneasiness with the external appearance compared to their male counterpart.
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