Revista Adolescência e Saúde

Revista Oficial do Núcleo de Estudos da Saúde do Adolescente / UERJ

NESA Publicação oficial
ISSN: 2177-5281 (Online)

Vol. 15 nº 4 - Oct/Dec - 2018

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Páginas 7 a 15

Correlation between dissatisfaction with body image and physical activity level in adolescents of the 3rd year of high school

Correlación entre la insatisfacción con la imagen corporal y el nivel de actividad física en adolescentes del 3º año de la enseñanza media

Correlação entre a insatisfação com a imagem corporal e o nível de atividade física em adolescentes do 3º ano do ensino médio

Autores: Flávia Évelin Bandeira Lima1; Diego Freitas do Nascimento2; Gustavo Dias Araújo3; Silvia Bandeira da Silva Lima4; Walcir Ferreira Lima5; Ídico Luiz Pellegrinotti6

1. Dotor in Human Scientist at the Methodist University of Piracicaba (UNIMEP). Piracicaba, SP, Brazil. Teacher ate the State University of Northern Paraná (UENP). Jacarezinho, PR, Brazil
2. Graduating in Physical Education at the State University of Northern Paraná (UENP). Jacarezinho, PR, Brazil
3. Graduating in Physical Education at the State University of Northern Paraná (UENP). Jacarezinho, PR, Brazil
4. Doctor in Physical Activity and Health at the University of Extremadura, Cáceres, Spain (UEx), with full Doctoral Scholarship - Science without Borders Program- CAPES. Professor at the State University of Northern Paraná (UENP). Jacarezinho, PR, Brazil
5. Doctor in Physical Activity and Health at the University of Extremadura, Cáceres, Spain (UEx), with full Doctoral Scholarship - Science without Borders Program - CAPES. Profsesor at the State University of Northern Paraná (UENP). Jacarezinho, PR, Brazil
6. Doctorate in Biological Sciences (Anatomy) by the Paulista State University Estadual Júlio de Mesquita Filho. Botucatu, SP, Brazil. Headline Professor of the Methodist University of Piracicaba (UNIMEP) in the Post-graduation course in Human Movement Sciences. Piracicaba, SP, Brazil

Flávia Evelin Bandeira Lima
Alameda Padre Magno, 841 - Nova Jacarezinho
Jacarezinho, PR, Brasil. CEP 86450-000

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How to cite this article

Keywords: Body image, adolescent, exercise.
Palabra Clave: Imagen corporal, adolescente, ejercicio.
Descritores: Imagem corporal, adolescente, exercício.

OBJECTIVE: This research sought to evaluate the correlation between dissatisfaction with body image and the level of physical activity in 52 students of both sexes of the third year of high school.
METHODS: Teenagers from 16 to 19 years old answered the International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ) - short version, and the "Silhouettes Scale", created by Kakeshita (2008). Statistical analysis was performed through the Statistical Package for Social Science (SPSS), version 20.0. To verify the normality of the data, we used the Komolgorov-Smirnov test and, for the correlations between the variables, the Pearson R test was performed. Other calculations such as the Mann-Whitney U test, Chi-Square and Odds Ratio values were required.
RESULTS: It was verified that although 61.54% of the teenagers practice physical activities regularly, the great majority is not satisfied with their body image (80.77%).
CONCLUSION: It was concluded that there is no significant correlation between dissatisfaction with the body image and the level of physical activity among the surveyed teenagers.

OBJETIVO: Esta investigación buscó evaluar la correlación entre la insatisfacción con la imagen corporal y el nivel de actividad física en 52 alumnos, de ambos sexos, del tercer año de la enseñanza media.
MÉTODOS: Los adolescentes de 16-19 años respondieron el Cuestionario Internacional de Actividad Física (IPAQ), versión corta y la Escala Silhuetas, creado por Kakeshita (2008). El análisis estadístico se realizó utilizando el Statistical Package for the Social Science (SPSS) versión 20.0. Para verificar la normalidad de los datos se utilizó el test Komolgorov-Smirnov y las correlaciones entre las variables R se realizó prueba de Pearson. Otros cálculos, tales como las pruebas, -square chi y los valores de probabilidades de Mann-Whitney se necesitaban relación.
RESULTADOS: Se verificó que a pesar de que el 61,54% de los jóvenes practican Actividades Físicas regulares, la gran mayoría está insatisfecha con su Imagen Corporal (80,77%).
CONCLUSIÓN: Se concluyó que no hay correlación significativa entre la insatisfacción con la imagen corporal y el nivel de actividad física entre los adolescentes encuestados.

OBJETIVO: Esta pesquisa buscou avaliar a correlação entre a insatisfação com a imagem corporal e o nível de atividade física em 52 alunos, de ambos os sexos, do terceiro ano do ensino médio.
MÉTODOS: Os adolescentes de 16 a 19 anos responderam o Questionário Internacional de Atividade Física (IPAQ), versão curta e a Escala de Silhuetas, criada por Kakeshita (2008). A análise estatística foi realizada através do Statistical Package for the Social Science (SPSS), versão 20.0. Para verificar a normalidade dos dados utilizou-se o teste Komolgorov-Smirnov e para as correlações entre as variáveis o teste r de Pearson foi realizado. Outros cálculos como o teste U de Mann-Whitney, Qui-Quadrado e valores de Odds Ratio foram necessários.
RESULTADOS: Verificou-se que apesar de 61,54% dos jovens praticarem Atividades Físicas regulares, a grande maioria está insatisfeita com sua Imagem Corporal (80,77%).
CONCLUSÃO: Concluiu-se que não há correlação significativa entre a insatisfação com a imagem corporal e o nível de atividade física entre os adolescentes pesquisados.


Beauty patterns are culturally constructed concepts that are modified and molded according to different historical and social contexts1. The concepts of what is a beautiful body and considered ideal suffer modifications year after year. Currently, mass media link as synonyms of beauty and attractiveness, for example, slimmer and more muscular body models2. The media n puts highlighted the growing influence and pressure, especially among adolescents, of the establishment of a body model to be followed. In this period is the emergence of common stereotypes and social patterns in concept formation of young3.

The way young people think, feel and behave about their fitness has a direct influence on the construction of your perception of the body image. The perception it is linked to both neurophysiologic and anatomical factors, as well as social and cultural factors4. The transition between childhood and adulthood is characterized by an immense change or reaching adolescents in their psychological characteristics to shape and body composition5.

It is important note that at this stage the aesthetic aspect of life places special attention on the part of young men and women, since the body is a possible source of frustrations that lead them to adopt risky behaviors6. We can consider physical activity in adolescence as an important mediator to form positive ideas about the body, which confirms the benefits for psychological health, especially for self-esteem and well-being7. Thus, the aim of this study is to evaluate the correlation between dissatisfaction with body image and the physical activity level in adolescent students.


This study is from type of correlation transversal and descriptive that presents a quantitative approach. The sample of the study was composed by 52 students of both sexes, being 29 men and 23 young people, enrolled regularly in the third year of secondary education and with ages between 16 and 19 years.

The research was conducted in a Technical School located in the municipality of Piraju, state of São Paulo. The election for such a municipality may be justified by the geographical characteristics of Piraju, such as the presence of rivers that bathe the municipality and are the main recreational options for young people. This contributes to the greater exposure of their bodies and, consequently, the desire for a good physical appearance8.

The election by the Technical School was given by the prior knowledge of the teachers and the facilities of the school unit, as well as the lack of previous studies with a similar theme to this investigation8. The data collection occurred in the first semester of 2017, with all the stages being carried out in a single moment during the morning period of school hours, using Physical Education classes. The head of the school signed the Free and Informed Consent Term, allowing the initiation of research with young people and taking responsibility for their participation.

For the selection of the sample all students were invited to participate in the study. After accepting, they received information about the objectives of the present investigation, as well as the procedures of each protocol used. The research was approved by the CEP-UNIMEP, in accordance with current regulations for research with human beings, under opinion number 113/2015, as part of the research project "Health risk factors and their relationship with motor performance of teenagers".

In the data collection, the adolescents filled out the identification card first and then the International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ) was applied, in its short version, which contains questions about the time that the individual would have spent doing moderate physical activities and vigorous in a certain week. This instrument was validated for Brazilian adolescents with age between 12 and 18 years9. Classification physical activity level was to realize the duration and frequency of practice. In this way, students were classified as active, if they had 300 minutes or more of activities, or inactive, if they had less than 300 minutes of weekly activities.

To investigate perception of the body image was applied the instrument created by Kakeshita10 and validated by Laus et al.11  for the Brazilian adolescent population. Individually, the adolescents were presented to the scales of silhouettes, arranged in ordered ascending series. Participants should choose the figure that best represents their current body size (current BMI) and then the figure that best represents the size they would like to have (BMI Desired).

Dissatisfaction was measured through the discrepancy between the Desired BMI and the Current BMI (BMI Desired - Current BMI). The students were classified as satisfied when the change was the same to zero, and in case of different from zero, as dissatisfied. Negative results indicate a yearning for a smaller silhouette, while positive results indicate a desire for a larger silhouette.

The anthropometric data (weight and height) were collected individually, after the application of the questionnaires for the calculation of the BMI (Body Mass Index). The weighing of the adolescents was measured using a portable scale platform, the G- Tech brand (maximum load of 150 kg and precision of 100 g), with the adolescents standing up barefoot and wearing light clothes. The stature was confirmed through a ribbon fixed vertically on a wall, with the participants also barefoot, with their feet parallel and ankles joined; the buttocks, the shoulders and the back of the head lying on the wall, the arms being loose along the body and the reading was made as close as 0.5 cm. The protocol for the categorization of BMI percentile was calculated using the Conde and Monteiro protocol12.

After the collection, the data were subjected to statistical calculations made by the Statistical Package for the Social Science (SPSS), version 20.0. In the first place, descriptive statistics were used to analyze the data. To verify the normality of the data, the test was used Komolgorov-Smirnov. For the comparisons of medians, the Mann-Whitney test was used. For comparisons of proportions, the test was used Chi-square. For associations and prevalence was used the values of the relationship of probabilities. For the correlations, the Pearson r test was performed. The level of significance was p 0.05 ≤ relationship in the determination of statistically significant differences.


The sample of the present study was constituted by 52 adolescents, being 29 men (55.77%) and 23 women (44.23%), with an average age of 16.5 years (± 0.64). The average weight of adolescents in the total was 61.26 kg (± 12.98), the total average height was 1.68 m (± 0.09), the average body mass index of the students in total was of 21, 71 kg / m2 (± 4.10). As for the calculation of dissatisfaction with body image, this presented total mean value of 0.12 (± 2.33), considering the subtraction between the targeted figure chosen as desired and current. On the physical activity level of the total sample, the average was 575.77 (± 707.98) minutes per week.

In the analysis of the variables of body mass (kg) and height (m) to demonstrate the difference between the sexes in this age group (Table 1), it can be verified that the men presented average body weight of 64.81 kg (± 13.71) and mean values of 56.77 kg (±10.67) for young women. The average height was 1.73 m (±0.08) and 1.61 m (±0.55) between men and women, respectively. This difference was significant between the sexes (body mass and height: p<0.05), taking into account the aforementioned anthropometric variables.

For a more objective data analysis (Table 2), We opted for a regrouping of the classifications of the mass index corporal, being the subjects with low weight and normal classified in the group of normal BMI, while they have been distributed to the students overweight or obese in the group of BMI Excess of weight. It must considered to some values which, although not significant (p>0.05), are relevant, such as the number of dissatisfied with body image in both sexes. In addition, among the dissatisfied there are a large number of boys who want to increase their silhouette and a remarkable number of girls who want to decrease it. In relation to the physical activity level of the sample, it was identified that of the total, more than half are active (32 participants), even with no significance between the data.

When the variable physical activity level and its classifications in assets and little active are in focus, there being no more division by sex, it can be noted that even active individuals have excess weight (25%). It is important to point out that among the students classified as not very active; most of them find themselves in the normal BMI state (85%). Regardless of the level of Physical Activity presented, there is a prevalence of students who are dissatisfied (75%) with their body image, even these being active. Of this total of dissatisfied, 34.4% want to increase the silhouette, while 40.6% want to decrease it. The above information is present in the following table (Table 3).

Based on the results obtained through the analysis of the variables of body mass index, body image and physical activity level, some prevalence rates can be determined (Table 4). These results are related to the probability that one variable is highlighted to the other, noting that students who are overweight are 2.81 times more likely to be dissatisfied with their body image. These individuals also present 0.52 times more chances of being less active in relation to the level of Physical Activity. If only the body image is taken into account, it is possible to identify that the dissatisfied are three times more likely to exhibit less active behavior when asked about the practice of physical activity.

In order to elucidate the effects of this study, the correlation test was carried out from Pearson, to determine the degree of linear correlation between two quantitative variables (Table 5). According to the test, there was a relevant correlation between the BMI (Low Weight, Normal, Overweight and Obesity) and/or BMI 2 (Normal and Excess Weight) with the desire to increase or decrease the silhouette. Another factor is that the satisfaction of the individuals was directly correlated with the desire to increase or decrease it (p=0.001). It is important to note that the main objective of the study did not present a significant correlation (p=0.189), that is, there was no correlation between the dissatisfaction with body image and the physical activity level in adolescent students.


By comparing groups of men and women (Table 1), it was possible to notice significant differences in the results only in the variables of body mass and height. Such differences can be explained taking into account biological factors and maturity presents two in this phase of life; for puberty in boys and girls refers to the morphological and physiological changes in aspects such as the shape, size and bodily functions13, being evident the differences of factors between the sexes, justifying a greater corporal mass (kg) and stature (m) in the males.

As demonstrated in this investigation, women had an average of -0.43 (± 2.06) relative to body image, are being unsatisfied and mostly wish to decrease the figure, both overweight as those considered within the weight. Corroborating this result, Santos et al.6 found similar results, seen the desire to decrease the body silhouette in girls that was 63.96% and 31.94% in normal weight down. There is no denying that the other results confirm the association between body dissatisfaction and influence of the media, transmitting stereotypes of beautiful bodies that especially affect women14.

It should be noted that the people who constituted the study sample are on a large scale dissatisfied with their body image, since as shown in Table 2, the percentage of dissatisfaction among men is 79.3% and for women this figure reaches 82.6% of the members, that is, there is a high prevalence of dissatisfied participants in both sexes. However, Marques et to al.15 indicate that the degree of satisfaction of young people of both sexes showed no such discrepancy, and the percentage of dissatisfied is 54.7% and 45.3% in women and men, respectively.

Although not express significant results in the physical activity level presented in Table 3, many adolescents with normal weight were classified as inactive (17 students). Associated to that there is a frequency of eight young people with overweight, but classified as active. Such data is surprising, because generally overweight people are sedentary. It should be mentioned that 61.54% of the adolescents that make up the sample are active. This fact is reinforced by Luciano et to al.16, emphasizing do in his research with pre adolescents pre-pubertal and post-pubertal, with an age group of 15 to 17 years, in wich 78.2% are also considered active or very active. However, these same adolescents considered active they presented significantly higher values in terms of the total time spent sitting during a weekend day.

As indicated above (Table 4), the young adolescents classifieds with overweight are 2.81 times more likely to be s satisfied in body image and 0.52 times more likely to be little actives. This prevalence is also support by Santos et al.6, in a study with only female adolescents which it´s classified as and showed that they have 3.47 times to propend for unsatisfied with their body image. Another literature presents a common agreement on adolescents' dissatisfaction with their bodies, especially for women17.

A worrisome fact is the fact that young people of both sexes in the less active group are three times more likely to be dissatisfied with the body. This concern becomes greater given that Hausenblas and Fallon18 argue that unhealthy behaviors are a warning of syndromes that affect aspects physical, emotional and motivational aspects of adolescence. That is, physical activities are important precursors in the formation of good concepts of the body 7. Thus, biological factors, such as vascular diseases, can occur less frequently in individuals with higher levels of regular physical activity19.

Mathias et to al.7 presented a study on the same approach, with results in which active adolescents were more satisfied with their body image. However, the correlation between dissatisfaction with body image and physical activity level among adolescents, that was the main purpose to be explained in this study was not significant (Table 5).

It is important to note that the data on body mass index and satisfaction with body image had significant correlation with the desire to increase or decrease the silhouette. Of the 23 boys who are dissatisfied with their body image, 15 want to increase and 8 want to reduce the silhouette, all data already expected, since most of the time the guys looking to gain muscle mass, which explains the desire for increased the silhouette As for the girls, the opposite happens, since of the 19 participants not satisfied, 13 wish to reduce the silhouette and only six want to increase it, another expected result, since most of them prefer to reduce the percentage of fat. Thus, boys desire an athletic body, while girls crave a slender body20.

In relation to the limitations of the study, the International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ) short version, even though it is a low-cost evaluation instrument, well accepted by the subjects and with rapid data collection, depends exclusively on the individual's memory and it may have difficulty in assimilating all physical activities in the week. As for the range of silhouettes, this protocol does not allow the representation of the person as a whole inhibit the distribution of their fat mass and other aspects relevant anthropometric tools in the construction of body image.


Considering the main variables addressed and attending to the main objective of this study, it was concluded that there is no significant correlation between dissatisfaction with body image and the physical activity level in adolescents in the third year of secondary education. However, it is essential to the realization that although physical activity has not be presented a significant relationship with the degree of satisfaction with the image, other benefits can be listed as advantages for physical, psychological and emotional health, as well as for the welfare, socialization and quality of life of individuals.

Given that the conclusions presented here are not absolute truths, it is suggested that there be a greater number of studies with this approach, with different evaluation protocols (questionnaires and scales), as well as the realization of a longitudinal study, being able to obtain more precise results of agreement with the pre-established variables, being possible an application of interventions that consolidate the practice of physical activities, both for active and inactive individuals.


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