Females, Body Dissatisfaction, and Nutrition

Girls and women of all ages, many ethnicities, and environments report struggling with body dissatisfaction that may affect nutrition [14]. This dissatisfaction may lead females or their loved ones to express concern and seek healthy or unhealthy ways to change their bodies [15]. While girls and women of all ages can report dissatisfaction with their bodies, as women age, the self-reported importance of their body shape and size declines [14]. While both boys and girls undergo major body changes during adolescence, and sometimes into early adulthood, that can impact body image [15], females have monthly body changes associated with menstrual cycling, enormous changes in physical size and shape associated with pregnancy and postpartum, as well as changes in body composition and fat deposition associated with midlife hormonal changes. Referral of girls and women (as well as boys and men) for counseling to explore and resolve body image as well as aging issues may improve nutritional outcomes and mental and physical health. The passage of mental health parity legislation should improve treatment options for individuals and families struggling with disturbances in eating and body image.

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