Puberty, Physical Activity Levels and Internalizing and Externalizing behaviors, Effect on Adolescent Body Image: Longitudinal Study.

Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date

April 2016

Faculty Sponsor

Jennifer Weaver


In this longitudinal study, the affect of pubertal development, physical activity levels, and internalizing and externalizing behaviors on physical self-image and unhealthy eating behaviors of adolescents were examined. Data were collected from 1,364 children and their families in the National Institute of Child health and Human Development (NICHD) in a longitudinal Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development (SECCYD). In this study, measurements were taken at the child’s one month birthday and in fifth and sixth grade. Regression analyses of these data found that higher rates of externalizing behaviors in fifth grade contributed to a higher perceived difference between ideal and actual body weight in sixth grade girls. Higher levels of internalizing behaviors were linked to lower physical self-image in boys. Greater pubic hair development in females was predictive of a larger ideal to actual height difference and unhealthy eating habits. Future researchers should conduct a longitudinal study investigating body image before puberty, during puberty and after puberty.

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