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What are adolescents’ experiences of body dissatisfaction and dieting, and what do they recommend for prevention? A qualitative study

An Erratum to this article was published on 29 March 2014


Body dissatisfaction and dieting are risk factors for eating disorders. Understanding young people’s views about factors underlying body dissatisfaction and dieting may be helpful for those designing preventative interventions. This study explored adolescents’ views on causes of body dissatisfaction and dieting and recommendations for prevention. Four 1-h focus groups were conducted with 22 female adolescents (aged 13–15 years). Transcripts were explored using thematic analysis. Body dissatisfaction and dieting was explained by four themes: peer acceptance; social comparison online; pressure from family; and pressure from the media and fashion industries. There were seven areas of recommendation for prevention: building sources of support; learning to be critical of the media; monitoring the school gym; working with parents; educating about signs and symptoms of eating disorders; working with people who have suffered from eating disorders; and providing help from professionals. Implications of these findings for the development of prevention programmes are discussed.

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This report/article presents independent research commissioned by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) under its Programme Grants for Applied Research scheme (RP-PG-0606-1043). The views expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health. This work was supported by a grant from the NIHR Biomedical Research Centre for Mental Health, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Correspondence to Helen Sharpe.

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Sharpe, H., Damazer, K., Treasure, J. et al. What are adolescents’ experiences of body dissatisfaction and dieting, and what do they recommend for prevention? A qualitative study. Eat Weight Disord 18, 133–141 (2013).

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  • Body dissatisfaction
  • Dieting
  • Adolescent
  • Qualitative
  • Prevention