Does perceived social support play a role in body image satisfaction among college students?
Ashley Merianos, Keith King, Rebecca Vidourek
Background: Low body image satisfaction poses serious health issues to university students. The primary purpose of this study was to examine whether body image satisfaction differed significantly among university students based social support. Analyses were also conducted to determine if body image satisfaction differed significantly based on sex, grade and relationship status. Methods: In 2011, a sample of 465 students (93% response rate) from randomly selected general education courses at a Midwestern University completed a valid and reliable survey regarding body image satisfaction and social support. Results: More than half (53.8%) of university students reported having a low level of body image satisfaction. Results indicated that body image satisfaction significantly differed based on level of social support. Students who reported high levels of social support had significantly higher levels of body image satisfaction then did their counterparts. More specifically, students who felt they could talk to a family member about things that are important to them had significantly higher levels of body image satisfaction. In addition, students who felt loved by a family member, at least one friend, or by their mother had significantly higher levels of body image satisfaction. Body image satisfaction did not differ based on sex, grade or relationship status. Conclusions: Body image satisfaction is significantly associated with social support from family members and friends. These results should be considered when developing and implementing body image promotion efforts for university students. Findings can assist campus health educators and prevention specialists to more thoroughly understand the importance of including family and peer support in prevention programs