In the United States, 22.4% of individuals are under the age of 18 years old (U.S. Census Bureau, 2019). Body image dissatisfaction continues to be a major concern in America’s youth, primarily because it can lead to severe psychological disorders such as depression, anxiety, and eating disorders (Gallivan, 2014). Several factors can influence body image, with some of the major factors being personality traits, media, family, and peers (Gallivan, 2014). Previous research shows that girls are more likely than boys to be both unsatisfied with their bodies and concerned about controlling their weight in an attempt to become more attractive (Gaylis, Levy, & Hong, 2019).
Overall, more than 50% of teenage girls and 30% of teenage boys in America practice unhealthy dieting behaviors to control their weight (Gallivan, 2014).
Additionally, approximately 75% of all Americans consume a diet low in fruits and vegetables, (“Current Eating Patterns in the United States”, 2020). Also, around 40% of high school students in the United States consume fruits and vegetables less than one time per day (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2019).
Programs are continuously being developed and implemented in an attempt to improve fruit and vegetable consumption or body image satisfaction in children/adolescents in the United States. However, both low fruit and vegetable intake and body image dissatisfaction in children and adolescents in the United States continue to remain a significant issue.
It has been suggested previously that body image satisfaction is strongly correlated to dietary behaviors, particularly in girls (Vliet, Gustafsson, & Nelson, 2016). However, the research results are sparse and conflicting. This may be due to the fact that the majority of the research on this topic focuses more so on how an already diminished body image affects dietary intake, while only a few researchers seek to answer how dietary intake independently affects body image.
One research study found that Caucasian individuals who consumed an adequate amount of fruits and vegetables had higher levels of body image satisfaction than those who ate less fruits and vegetables (p = 0.053); however, these results missed the 0.05 mark for being considered significant (Franko, Cousineau, Rodgers, Roehrig, & Hoffman, 2013). Specific results showed that Caucasian participants who consumed at least five fruits and vegetables per day had an average score of 2.78 on a one to five-point scale for appearance satisfaction, with five being the highest score possible and indicating the most satisfaction. Meanwhile, Caucasian participants who ate less than five fruits and vegetables per day had an average lower score of 2.50. On the other hand, the ethnic minority group actually had opposite results where these participants who ate at least five fruits and vegetables per day had a score of 2.57, while participants who ate less than five fruits and vegetables per day had a higher score of 2.70. However, these results were also considered insignificant. When controlled for body mass index and gender, results were not significantly altered (Franko et al., 2013).
Another study on Caucasian adolescents found that adolescents with a higher BMI at age 14 (ß=0.33; p). Aside from the conflicting results, the research so far has included participant samples that are highly variable. For example, some include exclusively or primarily females, normal or overweight/obese individuals, individuals belonging to a specific socioeconomic class, or mono-ethnic participants. Even when participant samples are more diverse, the researchers sometimes do not perform additional analyses to divide groups by gender, weight class, etc. Additionally, the age ranges and fruit and vegetable intake categories vary from study to study. All of this is evidence that there are several significant gaps in the current research on the correlation between fruit and vegetable intake and body image satisfaction. Therefore, this secondary data analysis was performed to add to the current research on the topic of body image satisfaction and dietary behavior.
The primary purpose of this research was to examine if body image satisfaction between children/adolescents in the United States who eat fruits and vegetables more than once a day differs from those who do not. The secondary objective was to determine if there is a difference in the correlation of fruit and vegetable intake and body image satisfaction between girls and boys. The hypothesis was as follows: Body image satisfaction between children/adolescents in the United States who consume fruits and vegetables more than once a day differs from those who do not. Therefore, the null hypothesis states that body image satisfaction between children/adolescents in the United States who consume fruits and vegetables more than once a day does not differ from those who do not.