Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 35, Issue 2, pp 265–275 | Cite as

Psychosocial Aspects of Body Mass and Body Image Among Rural American Indian Adolescents

  • Denise L. Newman
  • Lisa M. Sontag
  • Rebecca Salvato
Original Article

This study examines the psychosocial risks associated with body weight (BMI) and body image in a southeastern, rural Lumbee American Indian community. A total of 134 adolescents (57% female) were surveyed over 2 years at ages of 13 and 15 years. On average, boys (55%) were more likely to be overweight or obese than were girls (31%). BMI was related to a variety of weight control efforts including onset and frequency of smoking, dieting, and body dissatisfaction. Body dissatisfaction was associated with peer relations, self-esteem, anxiety, depression, and somatization in adolescence. Longitudinally, psychological health, peer competence, and ethnic identity were associated with positive body image. In boys, early ethnic identification was associated with the development of later body image. Implications of findings for ethnic- and gender-specific interventions are discussed.


body image body mass index American Indians adolescence 



The authors most gratefully acknowledge the families who participated in the Teen Pathways Study, the Lumbee Indian community of North Carolina, and support from the William T. Grant Foundation


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Denise L. Newman
    • 1
  • Lisa M. Sontag
    • 2
  • Rebecca Salvato
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyTulane UniversityNew OrleansUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyTulane UniversityNew OrleansUSA

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