Examination of body image among Canadian adolescents: Relations with physical activity and screen time

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Roberts, Nicole
Screen time , Adolescents , Physical activity , Body image
Background: Adolescence is a period of life associated with self-perceptions of negative body image. Physical activity levels are low and screen time levels are also high during this stage. These perceptions and behaviours are associated with poor health outcomes, making research on their determinants important. With adolescent populations, certain groups may be at higher risk of body dissatisfaction than others, and body dissatisfaction may influence individual physical activity and screen time levels. Objectives: The objectives of this thesis were to: 1) describe body image among young Canadians, examining possible health inequalities 2) estimate the strength and significance of associations between body satisfaction, physical activity and screen time, and 3) examine the potential etiological role of biological sex. Methods: Objective 1: The 2013/2014 Health Behaviour in School-aged Children study was employed. Sex-stratified Rao-Scott chi-square analyses were conducted to examine associations between socio-demographic factors and body satisfaction. Objective 2: The 2005/2006 and 2013/2014 cross-sectional and 2006 longitudinal HBSC data sets were used. Sex-stratified modified Poisson regressions were conducted and risk estimates and associated confidence intervals obtained. Results: Objective 1: Among males, being older, of East and Southeast Asian ethnicity, and reporting low SES all were associated with body dissatisfaction. Among females, being older, of Arab and West Asian or African ethnicity, being born in Canada, and reporting low SES were all associated with being body dissatisfied. Objective 2: Cross-sectionally, males who reported ‘too fat’ body dissatisfaction were more likely to be physically inactive. Adolescents of both sexes who reported ‘too fat’ body dissatisfaction were more likely to engage in high levels of screen time. Data from the longitudinal component supported the idea that male ‘too fat’ body dissatisfaction temporally leads to physical inactivity, but showed an inverse relationship between body dissatisfaction and screen time. Conclusions: Objective 1: Future prevention efforts in Canada should target subgroups to effectively help those at greatest risk of body dissatisfaction, and ameliorate potential inequalities at the population level. Objective 2: The presence of these relationships may inform future interventions as part of a multi-factorial etiology, in order to increase physical activity and decrease screen time among youth.
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