Body Image and Physical Activity

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  • Title: Body Image and Physical Activity: Implications for Adolescent Health Education
  • Author(s): Sarah Blackstone
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: Sport & Society
  • Journal Title: Journal of Sport and Health
  • Keywords: Health Education, Health Curriculum, Adolescent Health, Body Image, Physical Activity, Physical Education
  • Volume: 6
  • Issue: 4
  • Year: 2016
  • ISSN: 2381-7070 (Print)
  • ISSN: 2381-7097 (Online)
  • DOI:
  • Citation: Blackstone, Sarah. 2016. "Body Image and Physical Activity: Implications for Adolescent Health Education." Journal of Sport and Health 6 (4): 1-11. doi:10.18848/2381-7070/CGP/v06i04/1-11.
  • Extent: 11 pages


The aim of this study was to examine whether body image mediates the relationship between adjusted BMI and physical activity (PA) in males and females. Prior research has shown this mediational relationship in females, but not males. Methodology: The 2009-2010 Health Behavior in School Aged Children survey was administered to a nationally representative sample of adolescents (n = 12, 642) in grades 5-10th. The outcomes variable was a self-reported measure of PA. Body image was assessed using six questions from a sub-set of the Body Investment Scale (α = .87). Stratified by gender, a regression model estimated the effects of adjusted BMI on PA. Mediation models determine the role of body image in this relationship. Results: When accounting for body image, the associations between BMI and PA decreased, but were still significant, suggesting partial mediation. Among males, body image satisfied all steps of the mediation model; this was not the case in females, indicating lack of mediation. Conclusions: Unlike other studies, this study found body image to partially mediate the relationship between BMI and PA in males, but not females. Focusing on body image in both genders may be necessary in future health education programs.