Do aerobic fitness and self-reported fitness in adolescence differently predict body image in young adulthood? An eight year follow-up study

Sunna Gestsdottir, Erla Svansdottir, Yngvar Ommundsen, Arsaell Arnarsson, Sigurbjorn Arngrimsson, Thorarinn Sveinsson, Erlingur Johannsson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Aim To study whether fitness level in adolescence predicts body image in young adulthood. Methods Longitudinal study in which n = 385 participants were measured at age 15 and n = 201 at age 23. Fitness was assessed both objectively and subjectively. Body image was evaluated with the Offer Self- Image Questionnaire. Cross-lagged structural equation model was used to study whether fitness at age 15 predicted body image at age 23, covariates included sex, body mass index, physical activity, and socioeconomic status. Results Aerobic fitness at age 15 was the strongest predictor (β = 0.372; p < 0.05) of body image at age 23. Baseline body image (β = 0.214; p < 0.05) had also a significant effect, but self-reported fitness and covariates did not relate to body image at follow-up. The structural model explained 22.1% of variability in body image at follow-up. During the eight-year study period both aerobic and self-reported fitness decreased but body image remained the same. Conclusion Objectively measured fitness in adolescence is an independent predictor of body image in young adulthood, whereas self-reported fitness is not. Strong fitness in adolescence is important for a healthy body image later in life.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)40-47
Number of pages8
JournalMental Health and Physical Activity
Volume10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The study was primarily funded by the Icelandic Centre for Research (RANNIS) , but also supported by the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture and The Icelandic Primary Health Care Research Fund . Kristjan Ketill Stefansson for his assistance.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Elsevier Ltd

Other keywords

  • Adolescence
  • Body image
  • Fitness
  • Longitudinal study
  • Structural equation modeling
  • Young adulthood

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