The relationship between social physique anxiety and psychosocial health in adolescents

Luis Calmeiro, Margarida Gaspar de Matos


Social physique anxiety (SPA) is a subtype of social anxiety that relates to body concerns in social contexts and has been proposed as an indicator of psychosocial adjustment in adolescents. The purpose of this study is to explore the relationship of SPA with a number psychosocial and behaviour variables in adolescents. A nationally representative sample of 3331 8th- and 10th-grade students completed a survey as a part of the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) study. SPA was positively associated with poor health symptoms, larger body shape and being on a diet, while it was negatively associated with physical activity and social support. Girls, those who thought were much too fat and those who were or should be on a diet had higher SPA scores than their counterparts.

Hierarchical regression analysis indicate that gender (β = .20), being on a diet (β = -.27), physical activity behaviour (β = -.06), body shape (β = -.14), psychological symptoms (β = .15) and parental (β = -.07) and peer communication (β = -.07) were significant predictors of SPA. No significant interactions with gender were significant. Interventions should help adolescents deal with the pressures of achieving a socially desirable body shape and weight, including selfacceptance and seeking appropriate social support.



Adolescent health, Body image, Physical activity, Psychological functioning, Social support.

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