(Dis)satisfaction With Body Image, Lifestyles and Life Satisfaction in Higher Education Students

(In)satisfacción con la imagen corporal, estilos de vida y satisfacción con la vida en estudiantes de enseñanza superior


Objective. Body image is a predictor of physical, psychological, and social health. Therefore, it can be an indicator for detecting health problems, to be used in the context of higher education. The aim of this study was to assess body image satisfaction in higher education students and to determine whether body image dissatisfaction is related to lifestyle behaviours and life satisfaction.

Methodology. This study included 166 Portuguese higher education students. Body image was assessed using the Figure Rating Scale. Active choices during everyday life were assessed using the Active Choice Index. The questionnaire also included questions about sleep behaviour and tobacco and alcohol consumption. Satisfaction with Life was assessed using a five-item scale previously adapted for the Portuguese population.

Results. There was a predominance of boys dissatisfied with thinness (26.10%), while the majority of girls revealed that they were dissatisfied due to being overweight (55.70%). The results indicate statistically significant differences between boys and girls in terms of body image categories (p<0.001). However, when we analysed the behaviours separately according to gender, there were no differences. Active behaviours, as well as the other health behaviours analysed (hours of sleep per week and alcohol and tobacco consumption) did not differ between the different levels of body image satisfaction (p>0.05).

Conclusion. Most of the students are dissatisfied with their body image, with the majority of girls showing dissatisfaction due to being overweight. Lifestyles and life satisfaction do not differ between students who are satisfied and those who are dissatisfied with their body image.


Download data is not yet available.

Citado por


Helena Ferreira-Barbosa
Vânia Loureiro
Bebiana Sabino


Peralta REE, Salinas MRQ. Autopercepción de la imagen corporal y prácticas para corregirla, en adolescentes de una institución educativa, Lima, Perú. An Fac Med [Internet]. 2016 Jun;77(2):117-22. doi: https://doi.org/10.15381/anales.v77i2.11815 DOI: https://doi.org/10.15381/anales.v77i2.11815

Rodríguez-Camacho DF, Alvis-Gomez KM. Generalidades de la imagen corporal y sus implicaciones en el deporte. Rev Fac Med [Internet]. 2015;63(2):279-87. doi: https://doi.org/10.15446/revfacmed.v63n2.49387 DOI: https://doi.org/10.15446/revfacmed.v63n2.49387

Stice E, Bearman SK. Body-image and eating disturbances prospectively predict increases in depressive symptoms in adolescent girls: a growth curve analysis. Dev Psychol [Internet]. 2001;37(5):597-607. doi: https://doi.org/10.1037//0012-1649.37.5.597 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1037//0012-1649.37.5.597

Bucchianeri MM, Arikian AJ, Hannan PJ, Eisenberg ME, Neumark-Sztainer D. Body dissatisfaction from adolescence to young adulthood: findings from a 10-year longitudinal study. Body Image [Internet]. 2013;10(1):1-7. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/J.BODYIM.2012.09.001 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bodyim.2012.09.001

Eisenberg ME, Neumark-Sztainer D, Paxton SJ. Five-year change in body satisfaction among adolescents. J Psychosom Res [Internet]. 2006;61(4):521-7. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpsychores.2006.05.007 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpsychores.2006.05.007

Bearman SK, Presnell K, Martinez E, Stice E. The skinny on body dissatisfaction: A longitudinal study of adolescent girls and boys. J Youth Adolesc [Internet]. 2006;35(2):217-29. doi: https://doi.org/10.1007/S10964-005-9010-9 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-005-9010-9

Lawler M, Nixon E. Body dissatisfaction among adolescent boys and girls: the effects of body mass, peer appearance culture and internalization of appearance ideals. J Youth Adolesc [Internet]. 2011;40(1):59-71. doi: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-009-9500-2 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-009-9500-2

Meland E, Haugland S, Breidablik HJ. Body image and perceived health in adolescence. Health Educ Res [Internet]. 2007;22(3):342-50. doi: https://doi.org/10.1093/her/cyl085 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/her/cyl085

Grossbard JR, Lee CM, Neighbors C, Larimer ME. Body image concerns and contingent self-esteem in male and female college students. Sex Roles [Internet]. 2009;60(3-4):198-207. doi: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-008-9535-y DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-008-9535-y

Irvine KR, McCarty K, McKenzie KJ, Pollet TV, Cornelissen KK, Tovée MJ, et al. Distorted body image influences body schema in individuals with negative bodily attitudes. Neuropsychologia [Internet]. 2019;122:38-50. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2018.11.015 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2018.11.015

Von Spreckelsen P, Glashouwer KA, Bennik EC, Wessel I, De Jong PJ. Negative body image: Relationships with heightened disgust propensity, disgust sensitivity, and self-directed disgust. PLoS One [Internet]. 2018 Jun 5;13(6): e0198532 doi: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0198532 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0198532

Oliveira Regis JM, Ramos-Cerqueira ATA, Lima MCP, Torres AR. Social anxiety symptoms and body image dissatisfaction in medical students: prevalence and correlates. J Bras Psiquiatr [Internet]. 2018;67(2):65-73. doi: https://doi.org/10.1590/0047-2085000000187 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1590/0047-2085000000187

Herbert C, Meixner F, Wiebking C, Gilg V. Regular physical activity, short-term exercise, mental health, and well-being among university students: The results of an online and a laboratory study. Front Psychol [Internet]. 2020;11. doi: https://doi.org/10.1590/0047-2085000000187 DOI: https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00509

Hossain S, Anjum A, Hasan MT, Uddin E, Hossain S, Sikder T. Self-perception of physical health conditions and its association with depression and anxiety among Bangladeshi university students. J Affect Disord [Internet]. 2020;263:282-8. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2019.11.153 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2019.11.153

Blaxter M. Health and Lifestyles. London: Routledge; 2003. 288 p. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203393000

Al-khawaldeh OA. Health promoting lifestyles of jordanian university students. Int J Adv Nurs Stud [Internet]. 2014;3(1):27-31. doi: https://doi.org/10.14419/ijans.v3i1.1931 DOI: https://doi.org/10.14419/ijans.v3i1.1931

Baron P, Hermand É, Peze T, Kuehn C, Dieu O, Bourlois V, et al. No gender difference in association between sleep quality and physical activity level of French students. Sport Sci Health [Internet]. 2023;19:277-83. doi: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11332-022-00920-5 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11332-022-00920-5

Lôbo ILB, Mello MT, Oliveira JRV, Cruz MP, Guerreiro RC, Silva A. Body image perception and satisfaction in university students. Rev Bras Cineantropom Desempenho Hum [Internet]. 2020;22:1-11. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/1980-0037.2020v22e70423 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1590/1980-0037.2020v22e70423

Stanton R, Happell B, Reaburn P. The mental health benefits of regular physical activity, and its role in preventing future depressive illness. Nurs Res Rev [Internet]. 2014 May 1;4:45-53. doi: https://doi.org/10.2147/NRR.S41956 DOI: https://doi.org/10.2147/NRR.S41956

Senmar M, Azimian J, Noorian S, Aliakbari M, Chegini N. Relationship between spiritual intelligence and lifestyle with life satisfaction among students of medical sciences. BMC Med Educ [Internet]. 2023;23(1):1-9. doi: https://doi.org/10.1186/s12909-023-04506-8 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1186/s12909-023-04506-8

Diener E, Emmons RA, Larsem RJ, Griffin S. The Satisfaction with life scale. J Pers Assess [Internet]. 1985;49(1):71-5. doi: https://doi.org/10.1207/s15327752jpa4901_13 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1207/s15327752jpa4901_13

Stunkard AJ, Sørensen T, Schulsinger F. Use of the Danish Adoption Register for the study of obesity and thinness. Res Publ Assoc Res Nerv Ment Dis [Internet]. 1983;60:115-20. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/6823524/

Mullen SP, Silva MN, Sardinha LB, Teixeira PJ. Initial Validation of the Activity Choice Index Among Overweight Women. Res Q Exerc Sport [Internet]. 2016;87(2):174-81. doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/02701367.2016.1152349 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/02701367.2016.1152349

Reppold C, Kaiser V, Zanon C, Hutz C, Casanova JR, Almeida LS. Satisfaction with Life Scale: Evidences of validity and reliability among Portuguese college students. Rev Estud Investig Psicol Educ [Internet]. 2019;6(1):15-23. doi: https://doi.org/10.17979/reipe.2019.6.1.4617 DOI: https://doi.org/10.17979/reipe.2019.6.1.4617

Silva WR da, Bonini Campos JAD, Marôco J. Impact of inherent aspects of body image, eating behavior and perceived health competence on quality of life of university students. PLoS One [Internet]. 2018;13(6):e0199480. doi: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0199480 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0199480

Rivera-Ochoa M, Arroyo-Bello M, Mañas A, Quesada-González C, Vizmanos-Lamotte B, González-Gross M, et al. Body Dissatisfaction and Its Association with Health-Related Factors in Rural and Urban Mexican Adolescents from the State of Jalisco. Int J Environ Res Public Health [Internet]. 2021;18(22):1-10. doi: https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182212215 DOI: https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182212215

Halliwell E. Future directions for positive body image research. Body Image [Internet]. 2015;14:177-89. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bodyim.2015.03.003 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bodyim.2015.03.003

Alvarenga MS, Philippi ST, Lourenço BH, Sato PM, Scagliusi FB. Insatisfação com a imagem corporal em universitárias brasileiras. J Bras Psiquiatr [Internet]. 2010;59(1):44-51. doi: https://doi.org/10.1590/S0047-20852010000100007 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1590/S0047-20852010000100007

Lemoine JE, Konradsen H, Lunde Jensen A, Roland-Lévy C, Ny P, Khalaf A, et al. Factor structure and psychometric properties of the Body Appreciation Scale-2 among adolescents and young adults in Danish, Portuguese, and Swedish. Body Image [Internet]. 2018;26:1-9. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bodyim.2018.04.004 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bodyim.2018.04.004

Ralph-Nearman C, Filik R. New Body Scales Reveal Body Dissatisfaction, Thin-Ideal, and Muscularity-Ideal in Males. Am J Mens Health [Internet]. 2018;12(4):740-50. doi: https://doi.org/10.1177/1557988318763516 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1557988318763516

Gonzaga I, Ribovski M, Claumann GS, Folle A, Beltrame TS, Laus MF, et al. Secular trends in body image dissatisfaction and associated factors among adolescents (2007-2017/2018). PLoS One [Internet]. 2023;19;18(1):e0280520. doi: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0280520 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0280520

McLean SA, Rodgers RF, Slater A, Jarman HK, Gordon CS, Paxton SJ. Clinically significant body dissatisfaction: prevalence and association with depressive symptoms in adolescent boys and girls. Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry [Internet]. 2022;31(12):1921-32. doi: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00787-021-01824-4 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00787-021-01824-4

Lewis-Smith H, Bray I, Salmon D, Slater A. Prospective pathways to depressive symptoms and disordered eating in adolescence: A 7-year longitudinal cohort study. J Youth Adolesc [Internet]. 2020;49(10):2060-74. doi: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-020-01291-1 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-020-01291-1

Bray I, Slater A, Lewis-Smith H, Bird E, Sabey A. Promoting positive body image and tackling overweight/obesity in children and adolescents: A combined health psychology and public health approach. Prev Med [Internet]. 2018;116:219-21. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ypmed.2018.08.011 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ypmed.2018.08.011

Goswami S, Sachdeva S, Sachdeva R. Body image satisfaction among female college students. Ind Psychiatry J [Internet]. 2012;21(2):168-72. doi: https://doi.org/10.4103/0972-6748.119653 DOI: https://doi.org/10.4103/0972-6748.119653

Lee SY, Agocha VB, Hernandez PR, Park CL, Williams M, Carney LM. Coping styles moderate the relationship between perceived discrimination and eating behaviors during the transition to college. Appetite [Internet]. 2022;168:105699. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2021.105699 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2021.105699

Campbell A, Hausenblas HA. Effects of exercise interventions on body image: a meta-analysis. J Health Psychol [Internet]. 2009;14(6):780-93. doi: https://doi.org/10.1177/1359105309338977 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1359105309338977

Ancos MP, León BN, Gellida AR, Selma BV, Espí PC. Relación entre estrés y estilo de vida en estudiantes de Medicina de la UJI. Àgora de Salut [Internet]. 2023;9:173-83. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.6035/AgoraSalut.2023.9.17 DOI: https://doi.org/10.6035/AgoraSalut.2023.9.17

Hao M, Yang J, Xu S, Yan W, Yu H, Wang Q. The relationship between body dissatisfaction, lifestyle, and nutritional status among university students in Southern China. BMC Psychiatry [Internet]. 2023;23(1):1-8. doi: https://doi.org/10.1186/s12888-023-05215-8 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1186/s12888-023-05215-8

Jensen CD, Duraccio KM, Barnett KA, Carbine KA, Stevens KS, Muncy NM, et al. Sleep duration differentially affects brain activation in response to food images in adolescents with overweight/obesity compared to adolescents with normal weight. Sleep [Internet]. 2019;42(4):1-11. doi: https://doi.org/10.1093/sleep/zsz001 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/sleep/zsz001

Cash TF. Body image: past, present, and future. Body Image [Internet]. 2004;1(1):1-5. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/S1740-1445(03)00011-1 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S1740-1445(03)00011-1

Olchowska-Kotala A, Chromik K. Body satisfaction and time spent on physical activity in Polish students. Hum Mov [Internet]. 2013;14(4):285-90. doi: https://doi.org/10.2478/humo-2013-0033 DOI: https://doi.org/10.2478/humo-2013-0033

Yoo JJ, Lee SE. Factors influencing life satisfaction: Role of physical fitness, body satisfaction, and shopping. Family & Consumer Sciences [Internet]. 2022;51(2):90-102. doi: https://doi.org/10.1111/fcsr.12461 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/fcsr.12461

Al Sulaimi MR, Hutaglung FD, Bin Syed Ali SK. The mediating effect of physical activity in the relationship between body image and life satisfaction. Int J Instr [Internet]. 2022;15(2):349-72. doi: https://doi.org/10.29333/iji.2022.15220a DOI: https://doi.org/10.29333/iji.2022.15220a

Sundgot-Borgen C, Sundgot-Borgen J, Bratland-Sanda S, Kolle E, Torstveit MK, Svantorp-Tveiten KME, et al. Body appreciation and body appearance pressure in Norwegian university students comparing exercise science students and other students. BMC Public Health [Internet]. 2021;21:1-11. doi: https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-021-10550-0 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-021-10550-0


Download data is not yet available.