The effect of social media use and TV watching on body image in Texas middle schoolers: Analysis of data from the CATCH Middle School Project

Kayla Albrecht, The University of Texas School of Public Health

Abstract

Evidence supports a relationship between poor body image and childhood obesity, and exposure to messages promoting a thin body ideal through TV and social media may be influencing children’s satisfaction with their physical appearance. This study has four aims designed to contribute to the body of research on youth body image: (1) To estimate the prevalence of desired weight in a sample of public middle school students from Central Texas, overall and stratified by gender, ethnicity and school-level SES, (2) to examine the association between obesity and the desire to weigh less among the sample, (3) to examine the associations of daily TV watching and social media use with the desire to weigh less among the sample, and (4) to explore whether frequency of daily TV watching and social media use have an effect on the association between obesity and the desire to weigh less. A cross-sectional analysis of baseline data collected as part of the CATCH Middle School Project in 2009 was conducted. Descriptive statistics were used to interpret prevalence of desired weight stratified by demographic variables, and logistic regressions were used to obtain both crude and adjusted odds ratios (ORs) to examine the association between exposure variables (TV time and social media use) and the desire to weigh less. Of the 2,841 study subjects, the overall prevalence of students who “want to weigh less” was 46.17%. A higher percentage of females desired to weigh less (57%) than males (34%), and compared to males, females had twice the odds to want to weigh less and nearly five times the odds after adjusting for BMI. African American and “non-Asian other” students showed significantly decreased BMI-adjusted odds of wanting to weigh less compared to Caucasian students, and Asian students showed significantly increased BMI-adjusted odds compared to Caucasians. Females who used social media most frequently had significantly higher adjusted odds of wanting to weigh less than females in the low-to-moderate use category, while males who watched more than four hours of TV daily showed significantly increased odds of wanting to weigh less compared to boys who watched less than one hour per day. The results of this study support the need for further research on TV and social media and how they influence youth body image.^

Subject Area

Educational sociology|Middle school education|Public health|Web studies

Recommended Citation

Albrecht, Kayla, "The effect of social media use and TV watching on body image in Texas middle schoolers: Analysis of data from the CATCH Middle School Project" (2016). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI10131753.
http://digitalcommons.library.tmc.edu/dissertations/AAI10131753

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