08:31pm Tuesday 21 January 2020

Girls see themselves fatter than boys see themselves

Many adolescents and youngsters see themselves as fatter than they actually are
Whenevera young person and an adolescent, a girl and a boy look at themselves in the mirror, they do not see themselves through the same eyes. Many people -women above all- see themselves fatter than they actually are. According to the results of the research into eating disorders (ED) carried out by the psychologist Lorea Kortabarria, boys have a more accurate perception about their weight than girls do.Girls eat better but they have a worse perception about their weight: they see themselves fatter than they actually are. However, Kortabarria believes that the difference between boys and girls will tend to diminish, since more and more boys will suffer eating disorders owing to advertising pressure about their own image.

The most common and most well-known eating disorders are as follows: non-specified, bulimia and anorexia. These disorders have formed the core of the research for her thesis Variables asociadas a los trastornos de conducta alimentaria (Variables associated with eating disorders), from which she highlights the following by way of main conclusion: “Girls on the whole weigh less than boys, but as they see themselves as fatter than they actually are, they would like to weigh less; by contrast, their eating habits are better than those of boys. “Furthermore, girls go on more diets than boys, and they do not feel as happy with their own bodies as boys do with their own bodies, according to this researcher.

Boys for their part “would like to be taller than they are, and have a higher body mass index (BMI). As regards their self-esteem, it is higher than that of girls,” said Kortabarria. As far as their happiness level is concerned, there are no significant differences between the sexes, according to this research; depression was not used in the end as a predictive variable in this study.

The difference between girls and boys wanes
As the years pass, “healthy eating habits diminish among girls, but apart from that, there are hardly any differences between them and boys,” said Kortabarria. On the other hand, “there will be increasingly fewer differences between girls and boys as far as eating disorders are concerned, because boys are also ‘required’  to have a more perfect body,” according to the author of the study. In Kortabarria’s view, the trends among girls and boys will gradually become more homogeneous, and problems that until now have only emerged among girls will also spread among boys: anxiety, depression, etc. “I’ve seen many boys burst into tears because they thought they were overweight,” said Kortabarria.

This study puts forward the following solutions for eating disorders: prevention and/or intervention programmes in education, the family and in society in general. To set up these programmes, it will be necessary to take into consideration the predictive variables of the risk factors that may lead to youngsters and adolescents to develop an eating disorder: the obsession with being thin, bulimia and not feeling comfortable in one’s own body.
According to this study, the following groups run the greatest risk of developing an eating disorder: those who have an erroneous perception about their own weight, in other words, people who despite having the right weight believe they weigh too much; those who have worse eating habits; those who go on more unhealthy diets; those with lower levels of self-esteem and happiness; and those who score higher in clinical variables (depression, anxiety, anger, etc.).

Additional information
Lorea Kortabarria (Arrasate-Mondragon, 1984) is a graduate in Psychology and Psychopedagogy. Her study was conducted in 2011 and in 2012 among 1,075 adolescents and youngsters (536 boys and 539 girls), after contacting many schools and offering them her “project”. Questionnaires were distributed among the students at the schools that agreed to collaborate in the study, and each of the participants was weighed. Her thesis was supervised by Carmen Maganto (lecturer, Doctor of Psychology) and Maite Garaigordobil (lecturer, professor).

Information edited by
University of the Basque Country


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