Aspects of body image perception of preadolescent girls of different ethnic groups in Northeastern Johannesburg, South Africa

Bruk, Lila (2010-12)

Thesis (MNutr (Interdisciplinary Health Sciences. Human Nutrition))--University of Stellenbosch, 2010.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Background: Poor body image perception and body dissatisfaction has been found to be a risk factor for eating disorders. Studies have found that signs of distorted body image perception and body dissatisfaction can be detected in children as young as 8 or 9 years old. Aim: The current study served to assess the extent of this problem in Northeastern Johannesburg, South Africa, in order to allow for the necessary intervention steps (e.g. development of school-based programmes) to deal with this problem to be put in place. Method: The study was a cross-sectional analytical study with a descriptive component. Two hundred and four girls (81.37% Black, 15.20% White and 3.43% Coloured or Indian) aged between 96 and 119 months in primary schools in Northeastern Johannesburg were selected for this study using systematic random sampling. They were required to complete a questionnaire about their body image perception and weight control behaviours, as well as undergo anthropometric measurements (i.e. weight and height). Results: This study found that the subjects placed much importance on being thin, with subjects stating that they thought if a girl was thin she would be more popular (63.96%), have better self esteem (69.63%), be more attractive (69.11%), be more feminine (73.80%) and be healthier (66.84%). When asked to identify the girl from a silhouette drawing that most resembled themselves, 45.00% of the subjects were able to accurately identify which girl’s size most resembled their own, whereas 48.50% saw themselves as thinner than they are and 6.50% saw themselves as fatter than they are. In addition, the majority of subjects (69.61%) said that they were very happy with their weight and the majority (74.88%) classified it as “just right.” However, despite these findings, there was still significant body dissatisfaction evident in the group with 50.25% of the subjects wanting to be thinner, 28.57% wanting to be fatter and only 21.18% not wanting to be thinner or fatter than they currently are. Of the subjects participating in the study, 50.98% had tried to lose weight in the past and 28.71% had tried to gain weight. Also, various factors (i.e. media, cultural, family and peer influences), were shown to have a significant influence on the subjects’ body image perception. Other factors such as socioeconomic status and physical activity level had no significant link with the subjects’ body image perception. Conclusion: There is a significant problem with poor body image perception and resultant weight control behaviours in this age group. Clearly, there is a need for body image improvement programmes to be put in place in primary schools so as to prevent preadolescent girls from moving towards a lifetime of suffering with body dissatisfaction or, even worse, developing a life-threatening eating disorder.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Agtergrond: ’n Swak liggaamsbeeld en liggaamsontevredenheid is bekende risikofaktore vir die ontwikkeling van eetsteurnisse. Volgens studies kan tekens van ’n verwronge liggaamsbeeld en liggaamsontevredenheid reeds by jong kinders, van 8 of 9 jaar, bespeur word. Doel: Hierdie studie het gepoog om die omvang van dié probleem in die noordooste van Johannesburg, Suid-Afrika, te bepaal ten einde die nodige intervensiemaatreëls te tref (byvoorbeeld om skoolgebaseerde programme te ontwikkel) om die probleem die hoof te bied. Metode: Die studie is ’n dwarssnit analitiese studie met ’n beskrywende komponent. Met behulp van sistematiese, ewekansige steekproefneming is 204 laerskoolmeisies (81.37% Swart, 15.20% Wit en 3.43% Bruin of Indiër) van tussen 96 en 119 maande uit die noordooste van Johannesburg as proefpersone vir die studie gekies. Die meisies moes elk ’n vraelys oor hul liggaamsbeeld en gewigsbeheergedrag invul sowel as antropometriese meting van gewig en lengte ondergaan. Resultate: Die studie het gevind dat die proefpersone baie waarde daaraan heg om maer te wees. Hulle reken onder meer dat, indien ’n meisie maer is, sy waarskynlik gewilder sal wees (63.96%), ’n beter selfbeeld sal hê (69.63%), aantrekliker sal wees (69.11%), vrouliker (73.80%) en gesonder sal wees (66.84%). Toe hulle op ’n profielskets ’n meisie moes uitwys na wie hulle dink hulle die meeste lyk, kon 45.00% van die proefpersone akkuraat uitwys watter meisie se grootte die meeste met hulle s’n ooreenstem, terwyl 48.50% hulself as maerder en 6.50% hulself as vetter beskou het as wat hulle werklik is. Die meerderheid van die proefpersone (69.61%) was oënskynlik gelukkig met hul gewig en die meeste (74.88%) het hul gewig as “net reg” beskryf. Tog, ondanks dié bevindinge, was daar steeds beduidende liggaamsontevredenheid by die groep: 50.25% van die subjekte wil maerder wees, 28.57% vetter en slegs 21.18% nie maerder óf vetter as wat hulle tans is nie. Van die studiedeelnemers het 50.98% al voorheen probeer gewig verloor, terwyl 28.71% al probeer gewig aansit het. Verskeie faktore (soos media-, kulturele, gesins- en portuurinvloede) blyk ook ’n beduidende impak op die proefpersone se liggaamsbeeld te hê. Daarenteen toon ander faktore, soos sosio-ekonomiese status en vlak van fisieke aktiwiteit, geen wesenlike verband met die proefpersone se liggaamsbeeld nie. Gevolgtrekking: Hierdie ouderdomsgroep blyk ’n beduidende probleem met ’n gebrekkige liggaamsbeeld en gevolglike gewigsbeheergedrag te hê. Daar is duidelik ’n behoefte aan programme om laerskoolmeisies se liggaamsbeeld te verbeter ten einde te voorkom dat preadolessente meisies weens liggaamsontevredenheid ’n leeftyd van swaarkry tegemoetgaan of, selfs erger, ’n lewensgevaarlike eetsteurnis ontwikkel.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/5446
This item appears in the following collections: