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Body Image a Big Deal on American Campuses

U.S. college students more concerned about body image than German students

FRIDAY, Nov. 1, 2002 (HealthDayNews) -- "America the Beautiful" is more than a patriotic song for U.S. college students. It's an attitude.

American college students are much more likely to worry about the way they look and to spend time obsessing over their bodies than German students, says a study in the November/December issue of the journal Psychosomatics.

The study included questionnaires given to 101 American college students and 133 German students. Three-quarters of the American students said they were concerned with the appearance of parts of their body, while less than half of the German students said they had the same concern.

Nearly 30 percent of the American students and 15 percent of the German students said they were preoccupied with this concern.

The researchers found that four of the Americans and seven of the Germans appeared to suffer from body dysmorphic disorder. People with the disorder suffer significant distress or functional impairment due to excessive concern with an imagined or slight defect in their appearance.

Study lead author Antje Bohne of Harvard University School of Medicine says the higher concern about body image among American college students is likely the result of cultural differences in the values placed on appearances and resulting socio-cultural pressures.

The study data also suggest an association between poor body image and low self-esteem, along with symptoms of depression, anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder, Bohne says.

More information

The American Psychological Association has more information about body image problems.

SOURCE: Center for the Advancement of Health, news release, Nov. 1, 2002
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