Body dissatisfaction and bullying among underweight schoolchildren in Brazil and Portugal




Body satisfaction, Nutritional status, Bullying


Introduction: the body image is constituted by psychic and cultural aspects elaborated by the subject. It results in satisfaction or dissatisfaction, which can be promoted or intensified by peer pressure on ideals of body image.

Objective: to compare the prevalence rates of body dissatisfaction between Brazilians and Portuguese underweight, and to analyze the association of this variable with the social context, nutritional status and participation in bullying situations.

Methods: 720 students from both countries (377 girls; M = 10 years old), from five public schools and three private schools participated in this research. Participants answered the following instruments: Sociodemographic Questionnaire; Body Silhouettes Scale and Bullying Questionnaire. Body mass and height were also measured. The data were analyzed statistically.

Results: in relation to dissatisfaction with thinness, the participants in the private education network presented 0.43 (95% CI = 0.25-0.72) times less likely to manifest this condition when compared to the participants in the public education network. Boys were 1.64 (95% CI = 1.08-2.50) times more likely to present the outcome of dissatisfaction than girls. Among the bully-victim, 3.67 (95% CI = 1.41-9.53) times more chances were observed when compared with those who did not participate in bullying situations. The data revealed that body satisfaction was similar among students from both countries, but differed in some aspects of context. It was found that children and adolescents with low weight also need attention in relation to body dissatisfaction, mainly due to the identification of this variable as a possible risk factor associated with bully-victims.

Conclusion: interventional actions can be subsidized by the results presented to prevent and combat both body dissatisfaction and school bullying.


Download data is not yet available.


Finato S, Rech RR, Migon P, Gavineski IC, Toni V, Halpern R. Body image insatisfaction in students from the sixth grade of public schools in Caxias do Sul, Southern Brazil. Rev Paul Pediatr. 2013; 31(1): 65-70.

Machado DZ, Malucelli A, Carvalho DR, Bartoszeck AB. Desenvolvimento da imagem corporal interna por meio da perspectiva de Amann-Gainotti: uma visão desenvolvimental. Boletim de Psicologia. 2011; 61(135): 233-48.

Pinheiro AP, Giugliani ER. Body dissatisfaction in Brazilian schoolchildren: prevalence and associated factors. Rev Saude Publica. 2006; 40(3): 489-96.

Almeida S, Severo M, Araújo J, Lopes C, Ramos E. Body image and depressive symptoms in 13-year-old adolescents. J Paediatr Child Health. 2012; 48(10): E165-71.

Psujek JK, Martz DM, Curtin L, Michael KD, Aeschleman SR. Gender differences in the association among nicotine dependence, body image, depression, and anxiety within a college population. Addict Behav. 2004; 29(2): 375-80.

Haraldstad K, Christophersen KA, Eide H, Nativg GK, Helseth S. Predictors of health-related quality of life in a sample of children and adolescents: a school survey. J Clin Nurs. 2011;20(21-22):3048-56.

Mellor D, Hucker A, Waterhouse M, binti Mamat NH, Xu X, Cochrane J, et al. A cross-cultural study investigating body features associated with male adolescents’ body dissatisfaction in Australia, China, and Malaysia. Am J Mens Health. 2014; 8(6): 521-31.

Holmqvist K, Lunde C, Frisén A. Dieting behaviors, body shape perceptions, and body satisfaction: cross-cultural differences in Argentinean and Swedish 13-year-olds. Body Image. 2007; 4(2): 191-200.

Mellor D, Waterhouse M, Mamat NH, Xu X, Cochrane J, McCabe M, et al. Which body features are associated with female adolescents’ body dissatisfaction? A cross-cultural study in Australia, China and Malaysia. Body Image. 2013; 10(1): 54-61.

Pelegrini A, Coqueiro RdS, Beck CC, Ghedin KD, Lopes AdS, Petroski EL. Dissatisfaction with body image among adolescent students: association with socio-demographic factors and nutritional status. Ciência & Saúde Coletiva. 2014; 19: 1201-8.

Caldera-Montes JF, Reynoso-González OU, Nuño-Camarena D, Caldera-Zamora IA, Pérez-Púlido I, Gómez-Álvarez CA. Insatisfacción con la imagen corporal y personalidad en estudiantes de bachillerato de la región Altos Sur de Jalisco, México. Duazary. 2019; 16(1): 93-103.

Olweus D. School bullying: Development and some important challenges. Annual review of clinical psychology. 2013; 9: 751-80.

Oliveira WAd, Silva JLd, Braga IF, Romualdo C, Caravita SCS, Silva MAI. Modos de explicar o bullying: análise dimensional das concepções de adolescentes. Ciência & Saúde Coletiva. 2018; 23: 751-61.

Costa PJFdS, Farenzena R, Simões H, Pereira BO. Adolescentes portugueses e o bullying escolar: Estereótipos e diferenças de género. Interacções. 2013; 9(25): 180-201.

Xu X, Mellor D, Kiehne M, Ricciardelli LA, McCabe MP, Xu Y. Body dissatisfaction, engagement in body change behaviors and sociocultural influences on body image among Chinese adolescents. Body Image. 2010; 7(2): 156-64.

Hardit SK, Hannum JW. Attachment, the tripartite influence model, and the development of body dissatisfaction. Body Image. 2012; 9(4): 469-75.

Lora-Cortez C, Saucedo-Molina T. Conductas alimentarias e imagen corporal de acuerdo al índice de masa corporal en una muestra de mujeres adultas de la ciudad de México. Salud Mental 2006; 29(3): 60-7.

Reulbach U, Ladewig EL, Nixon E, O’Moore M, Williams J, O’Dowd T. Weight, body image and bullying in 9-year-old children. J Paediatr Child Health. 2013;49(4):E288-93.

Borges Miziara AM, Vectore C. Excesso de peso em escolares: percepções e intercorrências na escola. Psicologia Escolar e Educacional. 2014; 18(2).

Rocha M, Pereira H, Maia R, Silva Ed, Morais N, Maia E. Aspectos psicossociais da obesidade na infância e adolescência. Psicologia, Saúde & Doenças. 2017; 18(3): 713-23.

Marques A, Gaspar De Matos M. Trends and correlates of overweight and obesity among adolescents from 2002 to 2010: a three-cohort study based on a representative sample of Portuguese adolescents. Am J Hum Biol. 2014; 26(6): 844-9.

Santana ML, Silva ReC, Assis AM, Raich RM, Machado ME, de J Pinto E, et al. Factors associated with body image dissatisfaction among adolescents in public schools students in Salvador, Brazil. Nutr Hosp. 2013; 28(3): 747-55.

Oliveira WAd, Silva MAI, Mello FCMd, Porto DL, Yoshinaga ACM, Malta DC. The causes of bullying: results from the National Survey of School Health (PeNSE). Revista latino-americana de enfermagem. 2015; 23(2): 275-82.

Xanthopoulos MS, Borradaile KE, Hayes S, Sherman S, Vander Veur S, Grundy KM, et al. The impact of weight, sex, and race/ethnicity on body dissatisfaction among urban children. Body Image. 2011; 8(4): 385-9.

Pereira B. Para uma escola sem violência-estudo e prevenção das práticas agressivas entre crianças. Portugal: Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian,Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia; 2008.

Tiggeman M, Wilson-Barret E. Children’s figure ratings: relationship to self-steem and negative stereotyping. International. Journal of Eating Disorders. 1998; 23: 83-8.

Ferrari EP, dos Santos SCF, Maciel LA, Souza DS, de Matos Souza JM, Cardoso FL. Adaptação e validação de escalas de silhuetas para crianças brasileiras. Motricidade. 2018; 14(SI): 5-10.

Ross WD, Marffell-Jones MK. Kinanthropometry. In: Macdougall JDea, editor. Physiological Testing of the High Performance Athlete. Illinois: Human Kinetics; 1991. p. 223-50.

Cole TJ, Flegal KM, Nicholls D, Jackson AA. Body mass index cut offs to define thinness in children and adolescents: international survey. BMJ. 2007; 335(7612): 194.

Maldonado G, Greenland S. Simulation study of confounder-selection strategies. Am J Epidemiol. 1993; 138(11): 923-36.

Hill AJ, Bhatti R. Body shape perception and dieting in preadolescent British Asian girls: links with eating disorders. Int J Eat Disord. 1995; 17(2): 175-83.

Sano A, Le DS, Tran MH, Pham HT, Kaneda M, Murai E, et al. Study on factors of body image in Japanese and Vietnamese adolescents. J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo). 2008; 54(2): 169-75.

Jung J, Forbes GB, Lee YJ. Body dissatisfaction and disordered eating among early adolescents from Korea and the US. Sex Roles. 2009; 61: 42-54.

McCabe MP, Ricciardelli LA. Body image and body change techniques among young adolescent boys. European Eating Disorders Review. 2001; 9: 335-47.

Li Y, Hu X, Ma W, Wu J, Ma G. Body image perceptions among Chinese children and adolescents. Body Image. 2005; 2(2): 91-103.

McArthur LH, Holbert D, Peña M. An exploration of the attitudinal and perceptual dimensions of body image among male and female adolescents from six Latin American cities. Adolescence. 2005;40(160):801-16.

Harel-Fisch Y, Walsh SD, Fogel-Grinvald H, Amitai G, Pickett W, Molcho M, et al. Negative school perceptions and involvement in school bullying: a universal relationship across 40 countries. J Adolesc. 2011; 34(4):639-52.

Wilson ML, Viswanathan B, Rousson V, Bovet P. Weight status, body image and bullying among adolescents in the Seychelles. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2013; 10(5): 1763-74.

Carvalhosa Sd, Lima L, Matos Md. Bullying – A provocação/vitimação entre pares no contexto escolar português. Análise Psicológica. 2001; 4(19): 523-37.

Gonçalves S, Silva M, Gomes AR, Machado PP. Disordered eating among preadolescent boys and girls: the relationship with child and maternal variables. Nutrients. 2012; 4(4): 273-85.