Open Access Open Badges Research article

Quality of life impairment associated with body dissatisfaction in a general population sample of women

Jonathan Mond1*, Deborah Mitchison2, Janet Latner3, Phillipa Hay45, Cathy Owen6 and Bryan Rodgers7

Author Affiliations

1 Research School of Psychology, Australian National University, Canberra ACT 0200, Australia

2 School of Medicine, University of Western Sydney, Campbelltown, Australia

3 Department of Psychology, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, USA

4 School of Medicine, University of Western Sydney, Campbelltown, Australia

5 School of Medicine, James Cook University, Townsville, Australia

6 Rural Clinical School, Medical School, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia

7 Australian Demographic & Social Research Institute, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia

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BMC Public Health 2013, 13:920  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-920

Published: 3 October 2013



In order to elucidate the individual and community health burden of body dissatisfaction (BD), we examined impairment in quality of life associated with BD in a large, general population sample of women.


Self-report measures of BD, health-related quality of life (SF-12 Physical and Mental Component Summary scales) and subjective quality of life (WHOQOL-BREF Psychological Functioning and Social Relationships subscales) were completed by 5,255 Australian women aged 18 to 42 years.


Most participants (86.9%) reported some level of dissatisfaction with their weight or shape and more than one third (39.4%) reported moderate to marked dissatisfaction. Higher levels of BD were associated with poorer quality of life for all items of both quality of life measures, the degree of impairment being proportional to the degree of BD. Associations were strongest for items tapping mental health and psychosocial functioning, although greater BD was associated with substantially increased risk of impairment in certain aspects of physical health even when controlling for body weight. Post-hoc analysis indicated that the observed associations between BD and quality of life impairment were not accounted for by an association between BD and eating disorder symptoms.


In women, BD is associated with marked impairment in aspects of quality of life relating to mental health and psycho-social functioning and at least some aspects of physical health, independent of its association with body weight and eating disorder symptoms. Greater attention may need to be given to BD as a public health problem. The fact that BD is “normative” should not be taken to infer that it is benign.

Body dissatisfaction; Prevalence; Disability; Quality of life impairment; Health burden