Sex Roles

, Volume 53, Issue 7–8, pp 519–530 | Cite as

Relations Between Body Image and Dieting Behaviors: An Examination of Gender Differences

  • Charlotte N. MarkeyEmail author
  • Patrick M. Markey


Although links between body image and dieting behaviors have been established among women, little research is available to elucidate relations between these constructs among men. In the present study, we examined relations between men's and women's body image and healthy and unhealthy dieting behaviors. Two hundred and eight participants' (104 men, mean age = 25.88 years; 104 women, mean age = 23.87 years) body perceptions and body satisfaction were assessed using the Contour Drawing Rating Scale. Participants' dieting behaviors were assessed using the Weight Control Behavior Scale and weight status was assessed using body mass index (BMI). Analyses of relations among BMI, body satisfaction, and healthy dieting behaviors revealed a predictable pattern for both men and women; BMI was inversely related to body satisfaction and was positively related to healthy dieting behaviors. Body satisfaction was inversely related to both men's and women's healthy and unhealthy dieting behaviors. Further analyses of the relations between men's and women's body image and unhealthy dieting behaviors suggest different motives for men's and women's participation in these potentially health-compromising weight-management techniques. Results are discussed in terms of their contribution to researchers' understanding of the gendered nature of body image and dieting behaviors.


body image dieting body satisfaction men women 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Brownell, K. D. (1991). Dieting and the search for the perfect body: Where physiology and culture collide. Behavior Therapy, 22, 1–12.Google Scholar
  2. Brownell, K. D., & Rodin, J. (1994). Medical, metabolic, and psychological effects of weight cycling. Archives of Internal Medicine, 154, 1325–1330.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Cash, T. (1990). The psychology of physical appearance: Aesthetics, attributes, and images. In T. Cash & T. Pruzinsky (Eds.), Body images: Development, deviance and change (pp. 51–79). New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
  4. Cash, T. F., & Henry, P. E. (1995). Women's body images: The results of a national survey in the U.S.A. Sex Roles, 22, 19–28.Google Scholar
  5. Casper, R. C., & Offer, D. (1990). Weight and dieting concerns in adolescents: Fashion or symptom? Pediatrics, 86, 384–390.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2004). Body mass index for adults. Retrieved August 10, 2004, from
  7. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2005). Behavioral risk factor surveillance system: Weight classifications based on BMI. Retrieved February 20, 2004, from Scholar
  8. Collins, M. E. (1991). Body figure perceptions and preferences among preadolescent children. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 10, 199–208.Google Scholar
  9. Davis, C., & Cowles, M. (1991). Body image and exercise: A study of relationships and comparisons between physically active men and women. Sex Roles, 25, 33–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Davison, K. K., Markey, C. N., & Birch, L. L. (2000). Etiology of body dissatisfaction and weight concerns among 5-year-old girls. Appetite, 35, 143–151.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Ericksen, A. J., Markey, C. N., & Tinsley, B. J. (2003). Familial Influences on Mexican American and Euro-American preadolescent boys' and girls' body dissatisfaction. Eating Behaviors, 4, 245–255.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Fox, K., Page, A., Armstrong, N., & Kirby, B. (1994). Dietary restraint and self-perceptions in early adolescence. Personality and Individual Differences, 17, 87–96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Fredrickson, B. L., & Roberts, T. (1997). Objectification theory: Toward understanding women's lived experiences and mental health risks. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 21, 173–206.Google Scholar
  14. French, S. A., Perry, C. L., Leon, G. R., & Fulkerson, J. A. (1995). Dieting behaviors and weight change history in female adolescents. Health Psychology, 14, 548–555.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Friedman, M. A., & Brownell, K. D. (1995). Psychological correlates of obesity: Moving to the next research generation. Psychological Bulletin, 117, 3–20.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Furnham, A., & Greaves, N. (1994). Gender and loss of control correlates of body image dissatisfaction. European Journal of Personality, 8, 183–200.Google Scholar
  17. Gilbert, S., & Thompson, J. K. (1996). Feminist explanations of the development of eating disorders: Common themes, research findings, and methodological issues. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 3, 183–202.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Goodrick, G. K., Poston, W. S. C., & Foreyt, J. P. (1996). Methods for voluntary weight loss control: Update. International Journal of Applied and Basic Nutritional Sciences, 12, 672–676.Google Scholar
  19. Greenfeld, D., Quinlan, D. M., Harding, P., Glass, E., & Bliss, A. (1987). Eating behavior in an adolescent population. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 6, 99–111.Google Scholar
  20. Grogan, S., & Richards, H. (2002). Body image: Focus groups with boys and men. Men and Masculinities, 4, 219–232.Google Scholar
  21. Grover, V. P., Keel, P. K., & Mitchell, J. P. (2003). Gender differences in implicit weight identity. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 34, 125–135.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Gustafson-Larson, A. M., & Terry, R. D. (1992). Weight-related behaviors and concerns of fourth grade children. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 92, 818–822.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Harvey, J. A., & Robinson, J. D. (2003). Eating disorders in men: Current considerations. Journal of Clinical Psychology in Medical Settings, 10, 297–306.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Kostanski, M., & Gullone, E. (1999). Dieting and body image in the child's world: Conceptualization and behavior. Journal of Genetic Psychology, 160, 488–499.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Lohman, T. G., Roche, A. F., & Martorell, M. (1988). Anthropometric standardization reference manual. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.Google Scholar
  26. Lowe, M. R. (1993). The effects of dieting on eating behavior: A three-factor model. Psychological Bulletin, 114, 100–121.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Markey, C. N., Markey, P. M., & Birch, L. L. (2001). Interpersonal predictors of dieting practices among married couples. Journal of Family Psychology, 15, 464–475.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Markey, C. N., Markey, P. M., & Birch, L. L. (2004). Understanding women's body satisfaction: The role of husbands. Sex Roles, 51, 209–216.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. McCabe, M. P., & Ricciardelli, L. A. (2001). Body image and body change techniques among young adolescent boys. European Eating Disorders Review, 9, 335–347.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. McCabe, M. P., & Ricciardelli, L. A. (2003). Body image and strategies to lose weight and increase muscle mass among boys and girls. Health Psychology, 22, 39–46.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. McCabe, M. P., & Ricciardelli, L. A. (2004a). Weight and shape concerns of body and men. In J. K. Thompson (Ed.), Handbook of eating disorders and obesity (pp. 606–634). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.Google Scholar
  32. McCabe, M. P., & Ricciardelli, L. A. (2004b). Body image dissatisfaction among males across the lifespan: A review of past literature. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 56, 675–685.Google Scholar
  33. Mishkind, M. E., Rodin, J., Silberstein, L. R., & Striegel-Moore, R. H. (1986). The embodiment of masculinity: Cultural, psychological, and behavioral dimensions. American Behavioral Scientist, 29, 545–562.Google Scholar
  34. Mokdad, A. H., Ford, E. S., Bowman, B. A., Dietz, W. H., Vinicor, F., Bales, V. S., & Marks, J. S. (2003). Prevalence of obesity, diabetes, and obesity-related health risk factors, 2001. Journal of the American Medical Association, 289, 76–79.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Murray, S. H., Touyz, S. W., & Beumont, P. J. V. (1995). The influence of personal relationships on women's eating behavior and body satisfaction. Eating Disorders, 3, 243–252.Google Scholar
  36. Neumark-Sztainer, D., Sherwood, N. E., French, S. A., & Jeffrey, R.W. (1999). Weight control behaviors among adult men and women: Cause for concern? Obesity Research, 7, 672–676.Google Scholar
  37. Oberg, P., & Tornstam, L. (1999). Body images among men and women of different ages. Ageing and Society, 19, 629–644.Google Scholar
  38. Ohzeki, T., Otahara, H., Hanaki, K., Motozumi, H., & Shiraki, K. (1993). Eating attitudes test in boys and girls aged 6–18 years: Decrease in concerns with eating in boys and the increase in girls with their ages. Psychopathology, 26, 117–121.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Patton, G. C., Johnson-Sabine, E., Wood, K., Mann, A. H., & Wakeling, A. (1990). Abnormal eating attitudes in London schoolgirls: A prospective epidemiological study: Outcome at twelve month follow-up. Psychological Medicine, 20, 383–394.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Pope, H. G., Olivardia, R., Gruber, A., & Borowiecki, J. J. (1999). Evolving ideas of male body image as seen through action toys. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 26, 65–72.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Pope, H. G., Phillips, K. A., & Olivardia, R. (2000). The Adonis complex: The secret crisis of male body obsession. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  42. Rodin, J. (1992). Body traps. New York: Morrow.Google Scholar
  43. Rodin, J., Silberstein, L. R., & Striegel-Moore, R. H. (1985). Women and weight: A normative discontent. In T. B. Sonderegger (Ed.), Nebraska Symposium on Motivation: Vol. 32. Psychology and gender (pp. 267–307). Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press.Google Scholar
  44. Rolland, K., Farnhill, D., & Griffiths, R. A. (1996). Children's perceptions of their current and ideal body sizes and body mass index. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 82, 651–656.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  45. Rolland, K., Farnhill, D., & Griffiths, R. A. (1997). Body figure perceptions and eating attitudes among Australian schoolchildren aged 8 to 12 years. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 21, 273–278.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Rosen, J. C., Gross, J., & Vara, L. (1987). Psychological adjustment of adolescents attempting to lose or gain weight. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 55, 742–747.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Rosen, J. C., Tacy, B., & Howell, D. (1990). Life stress, psychological symptoms, and weight reducing behavior in adolescent girls: A prospective analysis. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 9, 17–26.Google Scholar
  48. Rozin, P., & Fallon, A. (1988). Body image, attitudes toward weight, and misperceptions of figure preferences of the opposite sex: A comparison of men and women in two generations. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 97, 342–345.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Serdula, M. K., Collins, M. E., Williamson, D. F., Anda, R. F., Pamuk, E. R., & Byers, T. E. (1993). Weight control practices among U.S. adolescents and adults. Annals of Internal Medicine, 119, 667–671.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  50. Shapiro, S., Newcomb, M., & Loeb, T. B. (1997). Fear of fat, disregulated-restrained eating, and body-esteem: Prevalence and gender differences among 8–10-year-old children. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, 26, 358–365.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  51. Silberstein, L. R., Strigel-Moore, R. H., Timko, C., & Rodin, J. (1988). Behavioral and psychological implications of body dissatisfaction: Do men and women differ? Sex Roles, 19, 219–232.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Smolak L. (2003). Body image in children and adolescents: Where do we go from here? Body Image, 1, 15–28.Google Scholar
  53. Smolak, L., & Levine, M. P. (2001). Body image in children. In J. K. Thompson & L. Smolak (Eds.), Body image, eating disorders, and obesity in youth: Assessment, prevention, and treatment (pp. 41–66). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.Google Scholar
  54. Stice, E., & Agras, W. S. (1998). Predicting onset and cessation bulimic behaviors during adolescence: A longitudinal grouping analysis. Behavior Therapy, 29(2), 257–276.Google Scholar
  55. Stice, E., Cameron, R. P., Killen, J. D., Hayward, C., & Taylor, C. B. (1999). Naturalistic weight-reduction efforts prospectively predict growth in relative weight and onset of obesity among female adolescents. Journal of Consulting Clinical Psychology, 67, 967–974.Google Scholar
  56. Striegel-Moore, R. H., Silberstein, L., & Rodin, J. (1986). Toward an understanding of risk factors for bulimia. American Psychologist, 41, 246–263.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Thompson, J. K., & Heinberg, L. J. (1999). The media's influence on body image disturbance and eating disorders: We've reviled them, now can we rehabilitate them? Journal of Social Issues, 55(2), 339–353.Google Scholar
  58. Thompson, M. A., & Gray, J. J. (1995). Development and validation of a new body image assessment scale. Journal of Personality Assessment, 64, 258–269.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  59. Wadden T. A., & Stunkard, A. J. (1985). Social and psychological consequences of obesity. Annals of Internal Medicine, 103, 1062–1067.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  60. Wald, N., & Willett, W. (2004). Reversing the obesity epidemic. The Lancet, 364, 140.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyRutgers UniversityCamden
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyVillanova UniversityVillanova
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyRutgers UniversityCamden

Personalised recommendations