Canadian Journal of Public Health

, Volume 94, Issue 5, pp 332–337 | Cite as

Predicting Change in Physical Activity, Dietary Restraint, and Physique Anxiety in Adolescent Girls

Examining Covariance in Physical Self-perceptions
  • Peter CrockerEmail author
  • Catherine Sabiston
  • Shannon Forrestor
  • Nanette Kowalski
  • Kent Kowalski
  • Meghan McDonough



To examine: i) the mean changes in adolescent females’ body mass index (BMI), global self-esteem, physical self-perceptions, social physique anxiety, physical activity, and dietary restraint; ii) the stability of measuring self-perceptions, BMI, selfesteem, physique anxiety, activity, and dietary restraint; and iii) the relationships among changes in these variables over 12 months.


631 female adolescents (15–16 years old) involved in a two-year study of selfreport measures completed validated questionnaires in high school classroom settings.


There were small but significant group increases in BMI and social physique anxiety and significant decreases in sport, conditioning, and strength physical selfperceptions and physical activity. Stability analysis indicates moderate to strong stability for all variables. Change analyses indicated that BMI, due to its high stability, is a poor predictor of change in all variables. Stronger significant correlations were noted between change in body appearance self-perceptions and change in social physique anxiety (r=-0.54) and dietary restraint (r=-0.27). There was also a significant relationship between change in physical activity and the physical self-perceptions, although conditioning was the only significant (p<0.05) predictor of change in physical activity (ß=0.340).


Physical self-perceptions are a stronger predictor of change in physical activity, dietary restraint, and social physique anxiety compared to BMI. This demonstrates the importance of physical self-perceptions when investigating health-related behaviours associated with dieting and physical activity. The decline in physical activity and increase in BMI is an ongoing concern, as is the link between body appearance self-perceptions and dietary restraint and social physique anxiety.



Examiner i) les changements moyens de l’indice de masse corporelle (IMC), de l’estime de soi générale, de l’autoperception du corps, de l’angoisse sociale liée au physique, de l’activité physique et des restrictions alimentaires chez les adolescentes; ii) la stabilité des mesures de l’autoperception, de l’IMC, de l’estime de soi, de l’angoisse liée au physique, de l’activité et des restrictions alimentaires; et iii) les liens entre l’évolution de ces variables sur 12 mois.


Des questionnaires validés ont été remplis en classe à l’école secondaire par 631 adolescentes (de 15 et 16 ans) participant à une étude de deux ans sur les mesures d’autodéclaration.


Nous avons constaté des augmentations collectives mineures, mais significatives, de l’IMC et de l’angoisse sociale liée au physique, ainsi que des baisses significatives du sport, de la forme physique, de l’autoperception de la force et de l’activité physique. Selon une analyse de stabilité, toutes les variables présentent une stabilité moyenne à élevée. Selon des analyses du changement, l’IMC, en raison de sa stabilité élevée, est un piètre prédicteur de changement, quelle que soit la variable. Nous avons noté des corrélations significatives plus importantes entre le changement dans l’autoperception de l’apparence physique et le changement dans l’angoisse sociale liée au physique (r=-0,54) et les restrictions alimentaires (r=-0,27). Il existait aussi un lien significatif entre le changement dans l’activité physique et l’autoperception du corps, bien que la forme physique soit la seule variable prédictive significative (p<0,05) du changement dans l’activité physique (ß=0,340).


L’autoperception du corps est un prédicteur plus solide que l’IMC pour ce qui est des changements dans l’activité physique, les restrictions alimentaires et l’angoisse sociale liée au physique, ce qui en fait un outil important pour l’étude des comportements sanitaires associés aux régimes et à l’activité physique. La baisse de l’activité physique et la hausse de l’IMC sont des préoccupations de longue date, tout comme le lien entre l’autoperception de l’apparence physique et les restrictions alimentaires et l’angoisse sociale liée au physique.


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Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Crocker
    • 1
    Email author
  • Catherine Sabiston
    • 1
  • Shannon Forrestor
    • 2
  • Nanette Kowalski
    • 2
  • Kent Kowalski
    • 2
  • Meghan McDonough
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Human KineticsUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  2. 2.College of KinesiologyUniversity of SaskatchewanCanada

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