CitationTanner-Smith, Emily & E (2008). The mediating role of weight dissatisfaction in the link between early pubertal development and adolescent girls’ substance use. 2008 Add Health Users Conference. Bethesda, MD: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Carolina Population Center.
AbstractPuberty is a key developmental transition during which adolescents begin to establish their identity in relation to peers, family, and society. One component of such identity formation, particularly for adolescent girls, is the changing body and associated shifts in body image and sense of self. Physical maturation during puberty brings bodily changes that others can easily identify (e.g., weight gain, breast growth) and thus plays an important role in how an adolescent interprets perceived reactions to her body. In contrast to boys, early developing girls may be at increased risk due to their status location within contemporary society that values thin pre pubescent bodies. This study addresses the following research question: Does weight dissatisfaction mediate the relationship between early pubertal development and adolescent girls’ substance use? Based on feminist social interactionist theories, it was predicted that adolescent girls who experienced puberty earlier than their peers would be at increased risk of substance use due to weight dissatisfaction associated with the early developing body. Data from Waves I, II, and III of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health are used to address these research questions. Contrary to expectations, results from structural equation models indicated that weight dissatisfaction failed to significantly mediate the relationship between pubertal development and adolescent girls’ tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana use. It is concluded that more research is needed to investigate other social contextual factors that explain the risk of substance use associated with adolescent girls’ pubertal development.
Reference TypeConference proceeding
Book Title2008 Add Health Users Conference